Appreciating Real Madrid’s truly insane central midfield options

Real Madrid have secured a statement signing after completing a deal to sign Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund, with the Spanish giants beating competition from the Premier League for the in-demand midfielder.

Bellingham arrives in the Spanish capital with a growing reputation after three seasons at Dortmund, the last of which saw the teenager named as the Bundesliga’s Player of the Season.

The 19-year-old has been added to an already formidable midfield line up Real Madrid, a depth of options that brings experience, youth, variety and tantalising talent.

Appreciating Real Madrid’s truly insane central midfield options.

Luka Modric

Luka Modric continues to stamp his evergreen elegance on the Real Madrid midfield with the veteran having shown few signs of winding down as he reaches the twilight of an incredible career.

Not since his debut season at Real Madrid has Modric made more than the 52 appearances he totalled last season, while he recorded a joint-best return of six goals in all competitions. The Croatian schemer continues to run games with a mind and technique that remains razor-sharp even if the legs have slightly slowed

The 37-year-old ranked among the top bracket of midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues for expected assists, shot-creating actions, attempted passes, pass completion and progressive passes last season, with the veteran continuing to ooze class as a conduit of Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

Modric is expected to turn down a lucrative offer from Saudi Arabia to sign a new one-year deal at the Bernabeu and underlined the contribution he can still provide with an outstanding performance as Croatia reached the UEFA Nations League final this week.

Modric might be used more sparingly in the season ahead, but the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner is the perfect player for Real Madrid’s emerging superstars to learn from. One of the greatest midfielders of this, or any, generation.

Toni Kroos

Toni Kroos is also set to pen a new deal at Real Madrid with the Spaniards keen to mix the old with the new.

Alongside Modric, Kroos has been at the centre of Real Madrid’s modern success having won three La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies since his arrival from Bayern Munich.

The 33-year-old’s distribution of the ball is elite, with Kroos boasting vision and technique that allows him to find passes with unerring accuracy. Such has been the standard he has set, the midfielder has not dropped below 91% pass accuracy in a league campaign since the 2012/13 season at Bayern – when Kroos completed 89.7% of his passes for the German giants.

Last season the veteran ranked in the 98th percentile or higher of midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues for attempted passes, pass completion and progressive passes and in the 95th percentile for shot-creating actions.

He also led the Champions League for passes into the final third (128) last season while retaining a pass accuracy of 93.8%.


Fede Valverde

Carlo Ancelotti challenged Federico Valverde to raise his game last season and received the response he wanted after a career-best campaign from the midfielder.

Valverde had long been the man for all occasions for Real Madrid, but Ancelotti believed there was more to come from the Uruguayan in the final third. The 24-year-old scored 12 goals in all competitions for the Spanish side, double the amount he managed in the previous four campaigns combined.

An improved goal threat has made Valverde one of the most complete midfielders in Europe right now, a footballer who is adaptable, versatile and sets standards with relentless work-rate and an ability to drive forward dangerously in possession.

Valverde has demonstrated his threat whether positioned centrally or from the right and ranked in the 90th percentile or above among midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues for non-penalty goals, shots, expected assists and progressive carries per 90 minutes last season.

All-action and full commitment, he is a player the Madridistas appreciate for his endless energy.

Eduardo Camavinga

Real Madrid won the race to sign Eduardo Camavinga following the midfielder’s emergence at Rennes, with the teenager having become the Ligue 1 club’s youngest debutant aged just 16.

Two seasons of development saw Real Madrid spend £34.4m to sign the Frenchman, an investment that already looks a bargain given his progress in the Spanish capital.

Camavinga performs with a maturity on the pitch that defies his inexperience and he provided a cool head at crucial moments during Real Madrid’s run to Champions League and La Liga success in 2021/22.

This season he has shown versatility in performing at left-back for periods of the campaign, offering drive from the defensive position. The 20-year-old’s confidence in possession is remarkable and he is comfortable taking the ball in any area of the pitch, often dropping deep to receive possession from the backline before gliding forward.

Camavinga’s best position remains unclear, but the France international has the attributes to flourish in any midfield role. Whether he evolves into a specialised six or a more box-to-box eight, he looks set to be at the centre of this Real Madrid side for seasons to come.

Aurélien Tchouaméni

Aurélien Tchouaméni was the big-money arrival at Real Madrid last summer after the Spanish side beat competition from PSG and England to land the Monaco midfielder.

Tchouaméni signed in a deal which could reach €100m (£85.3m) with add-ons, following a rise which saw the youngster named in the Ligue 1 Team of the Season in consecutive campaigns.

The 23-year-old began well at Real Madrid before seeing his role reduced over the second half of the campaign, with the France international failing to start any of the Spanish side’s fixtures in the Champions League knockout rounds.

Tchouaméni, however, is a defensive specialist and elite ball-winner, with his profile appearing the perfect replacement for the departed Casemiro. The Frenchman is an imposing physical presence and prolific ball-winner at the base of the midfield, ranking in the 99th percentile of midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues for interceptions per 90 minutes in 2022/23.

Add in impressive percentile rankings for aerials won (89), clearances (92), passes attempted (95) and pass completion (99) and Tchouaméni has all the ingredients to provide the Spaniards with steel to match an abundance of creativity and drive.

Brahim Diaz

Brahim Diaz has returned to Real Madrid this summer after spending the last three seasons on loan at AC Milan.

The former Manchester City youngster had failed to make an impression after his initial £15.5m move to the Spanish capital, but returns an improved player after his spell at the San Siro.

Diaz formed part of the Milan side that won the Serie A title during the 2021/22 campaign, before producing the best individual form of his career last season. The 23-year-old scored seven goals and laid on a further seven assists in all competitions, as the Rossoneri reached the Champions League semi-finals.

Diaz’s return will add depth to Real Madrid’s midfield having performed in an advanced central role at AC Milan, or off either flank. Given the exits of Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard, his return is a welcome addition.

Jude Bellingham

Jude Bellingham will become the sixth Englishman to represent Real Madrid after completing his move to the Spanish capital.

Bellingham has become the most expensive English footballer of all time in a deal that could reach £115m, with the midfielder having emerged as Europe’s most coveted talent at Borussia Dortmund.

The 19-year-old has made 132 appearances across three seasons at Dortmund and grew in importance and influence in each campaign. Bellingham was named as the Bundesliga’s Player of the Season in 2022/23.

Bellingham’s box-to-box brilliance saw him lead his Dortmund team-mates for goals (14), goals and assists (20), successful take-ons (106), tackles (98) and possession won in the final third (34) last season, while his 88 completed take-ons in the Bundesliga were a leading total among central midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues.

Full of drive and with a maturity and personality that looks capable of handling the Bernabeu pressure-cooker, Bellingham will hope to become one of English football’s best exports at Europe’s most successful side.

Read – Five Premier League players signed last summer who could move again

Read Also – The five most expensive teenagers in football history

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