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While Luka Modric and Toni Kroos represent the heart and soul of Madrid’s midfield, Real Madrid are missing an engine to keep the train running. In recent years an influx of young talented imports have graced the Santiago Bernabéu stadium including Mateo Kovačić, Casemiro, Brahim Diaz and Martin Ødegaard. These transfers have needed time to settle and develop in Real Madrid Castilla or thrown straight into the first team. However, one talented graduate stood out and arguably brings a unique dynamic to a squad that is brimming with world-class talent: Federico Valverde.

Federico Valverde, or Fede as he is affectionately known, is an outstanding player bought from Club Atlético Peñarol in July 2016 after turning 18. Real Madrid were the front runners among the plethora of leading European clubs but he opted to join Los Blancos. The Uruguayan starred for the under-17 Uruguayan national team and dazzled Real Madrid enough with his performances to persuade them to pre-purchase him at 17 years of age.

Having joined up with Real Madrid Castilla B team, Valverde initially struggled to impose himself. However, he slowly became a mainstay of Santiago Solari’s side making 30 appearances and scoring three goals in his first season with the club. Nicknamed El Pajarito – the little bird – based off his running style as a child, Valverde has come a long way from the streets of Montevideo to the magical city of Madrid in such a short space of time.

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