The UEFA European Under-19 Championship has provided a showcase for some of the stars of the future – and one who has sparkled is Marco Asensio, a player with the not-insignificant task of winning a regular role at new club Real Madrid once he returns home from Greece.
Name: Marco Asensio
Club: Real Madrid
Debut: 27 October 2013 for Mallorca v Recreativo Huelva
Position: attacking midfielder
Date of birth: 21 January1996
Preferred foot: left
They say …
"We have a great understanding – if I don't have anything on, I just give the ball to Marco. He's a fantastic player."
Spain U19 team-mate Dani Ceballos
"He is a very important player for us. His technical skills are fantastic, he is very quick with the ball at his feet and has an eye for goal. He is a very complete footballer in all aspects. The fact he is also a great person and a consummate professional adds to the equation. "
Spain U19 coach Luis de la Fuente
Born in Palma to a Spanish father and a Dutch mother, Asensio joined local club Mallorca aged ten and worked his way through the youth ranks, earning a debut for the B team in 2003/14. Made his senior bow in a 3-1 loss at Recreativo Huelva in October 2013 and was quickly promoted on a full-time basis by then coach José Luis Oltra.
Playing style …
Asensio likes to move possession quickly – he made over 1,000 passes for second-division Mallorca in 2014/15 – and has a good engine having played 2,925 minutes in the league, his side's fourth-highest total. Managed 58 shots on goal, seven more than any other Mallorca player, but will be looking to improve on his final total of six goals, and showed ability to do just that with a decisive late double in Spain's U19 semi-final win against France.
Shades of …
With his ability to play through the middle or out wide – where his blistering pace is a considerable advantage – Asensio closely resembles Barcelona forward Pedro Rodríguez, not least in his knack for contributing crucial goals.
Eureka moment …
Three goals and six assists in Mallorca's first 14 games of 2014/15 brought Asensio to prominence, securing the second division's player of the month award in October as the race for his signature intensified. Perhaps the high point came against Deportivo Alavés as he struck the first goal and made the other in a 2-0 victory – and Real Madrid were swiftest to react, paying €3.9m for his services on 5 December 2014. Asensio, who inked a six-year deal at the Santiago Bernabéu having been a boyhood Barcelona fan, remained on loan at Mallorca for the rest of the season, scoring a further three league goals as his team narrowly avoided relegation. He debuted for the U21 national side in a 2-0 friendly defeat of Norway in March.
Best-case scenario …
Despite his seven goals in 56 second-tier outings for Mallorca, Asensio's next move could be a loan away from Madrid; Real Betis were strongly linked, but there is no shortage of top-flight suitors at home and abroad. After leaving Greece, the midfielder will join Madrid's tour to Australia and China, with a decision on his short-term future expected after a friendly tournament in Munich on 4/5 August. Should Asensio still be at Madrid then, he will have an extended opportunity to impress new coach Rafael Benítez.
He says …
"Everything's going really quickly, but I'm taking it all in my stride. Right now I'm only thinking about the national team and when I go to my new club – Real Madrid – I'll think about Real Madrid. I just think in the here and now."
Asensio after scoring twice against France for the U19s in November
— Marco Asensio (@marcoasensio10) May 21, 2015
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