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Tchouaméni and Real Madrid’s ‘Visigothic kings’


At his unveiling yesterday, Tchouaméni introduced himself in Spanish - in sharp contrast to the grasp of our language which Gareth Bale has shown after nine years living here. It was a gesture of gratitude and not the only one. He also had the choice of joining PSG or Liverpool but opted for Real Madrid. He’s a midfielder, joining a team where there is already a trio of players so deeply established that my good friend Hughes recently referred to its components as the Visigothic kings in one of his wonderful articles in ABC. They tell me that Tchouaméni is still a young player, like Camavinga, and can wait for his turn, but with the World Cup looming in November, the prospect of warming the bench in his first few months could have given him second thoughts..

If Tchouaméni chose Madrid it is likely that he’s been a Madrid fan since he was a kid - like so many others. It’s something that happened quite a lot ‘back in the day’, as Francisco Umbral might say; Spanish players signed for Madrid, in some ways, to annoy or mock culés and atléticos. That’s how it was. Madrid had won so many trophies that their mythicism grabbed their attention during infancy. Even Luis Enrique admitted as much in the club’s official magazine back in the 90s. The same thing is happening now - the Galácticos inspired a whole generation - including Bale, who joined as one. And also Mbappé, who Macron convinced to stay in Paris. But the French President wasn’t able to convince Tchouaméni to do the same.

Madrid sign polenta, Argentineans say, high-carb food synonymous with energy, for the midfield. Tchouaméni’s not quite as classy as Camavinga, but he’s stronger. For those of my generation, he’s a 20th Century Pirri - a player with presence, character and all of the attributes which players of African origin possess. He can cover for Casemiro, the youngest of the Visigothic kings, or play alongside him in a back-and-forth style, acting as the piston which drives the team forward. That’s the way football’s heading. He cost quite a lot of money, but Madrid have it. He’s a good signing.


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