The Uruguayan is a fixture in the Real Madrid starting XI, and this week scored his sixth goal of the season against Elche CF. His recent performances have led teammate Toni Kroos to pick him out as one of the three most in-form players in world football right now.
Real Madrid midfielder Fede Valverde has already scored six goals this season, five in LaLiga Santander and one in the Champions League. This is a major improvement after scoring just one goal last season. In September, Carlo Ancelotti said: “What seemed strange to me last year was that he only scored one goal. I told him that he had a rock of a foot and that if he wasn’t able to score at least 10 goals in a season then I should rip up my coaching license and retire.”
With his strike on Wednesday night against Elche CF, Valverde already has more than half of this target. After that game, Ancelotti added: “It was a risk to ask for 10, but if he scores four more then my license will remain intact!”
This is by far the best season of the 24-year-old’s career so far, as evidenced by the LaLiga Santander Player of the Month award he collected for September.
Born in Montevideo in July 1998, his seven goals in nine games at the 2015 South American Under-17 championships alerted scouts at many of Europe’s top clubs, with his skinny frame earning him the nickname of El Pajarito (the little bird).
Real Madrid’s excellent contacts in Latin America, and the lure of the Santiago Bernabéu, saw him agree to join the LaLiga Santander giants. Valverde played just 11 times for his Uruguayan club Peñarol’s senior team, including making a debut in the Copa Libertadores, before completing a permanent move to the Spanish capital after turning 18 in July 2016.
The teenager settled quickly with Real Madrid’s reserve side Castilla under future senior side coach Santi Solari. He marked his first start in Spain’s third tier with a goal against Basque side SD Amorebieta and gained valuable experience in that squad.
Behind The Scenes: Rüdiger dances as Real Madrid wins El Clásico
Antonio Rüdiger and his teammates celebrate as Real Madrid move to the top of the LaLiga table after the Clásico 3-1 win at the Santiago Bernabéu.
The following summer saw Valverde pick up the Silver Ball at the Under-20 World Cup after leading Uruguay to an unlucky semi-final exit on penalties. His development continued at LaLiga Santander level as he spent the 2017/18 season with RC Deportivo, with the increasingly impressive physical specimen standing out even as the Galician team battled against relegation, and making his full senior Uruguay debut in September 2017.
The quick route to the top continued when Valverde returned to Real Madrid’s senior squad in the summer of 2018. He proceeded to earn regular playing time during Solari’s short spell in charge, and even more so when Zinedine Zidane returned as a boss in March 2019 and quickly realised that the youngster’s athleticism and determination were just what was required to recharge the team.
Between 2019 and 2022, Valverde really showed he was worthy of a regular starting spot in the Real Madrid XI, even amid intense competition for midfield places with 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modrić, Brazil national captain Casemiro and 2014 World Cup champion Toni Kroos.
He was also key to last year’s Champions League triumph, even playing many matches as a right winger. It was the Uruguayan who assisted Vinícius’ goal in the 1-0 victory over Liverpool in the final. The Little Bird has shown he is ready to soar to the very top of the game. In fact, his recent performances have led teammate Toni Kroos to pick him out as one of the three most in-form players in world football right now.