Who is Marco Asensio?
Marco Asensio was born on the 21st of January 1996 in Palma, Spain. Born to a Dutch mother and Spanish father, Asensio was picked up by the RCD Mallorca youth team at the age of 10. He impressed so much at youth level that La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona both started to show an interest. Mallorca reacted by promoting Asensio from the youth team to the reserve team in 2013.
Despite only joining the reserve team in the summer of 2013, Asensio was called up to the first team on the 27th of October for Mallorca’s game against Recreativo Huelva. The game ended 3-1 to Recreativo Huelva, but Asensio made his debut as he came on for the final 6 minutes of the game. Even though Asensio was still on a youth contract at the time, he was regularly called up to the first team as he was the only bright spark in a rather disappointing season for Mallorca.
It wasn’t until the second half of the 13/14 season when Asensio became a first team player on a permanent basis. He played his first full 90 minutes on the 2nd of February in a game against Sporting Gijón, which unfortunately Asensio and Mallorca lost. Asensio got his first goal for his hometown club against CD Tenerife and just a week later got his first assist for Mallorca against Real Madrid Castilla.
14/15 was Asensio’s first full season with the first team and he impressed with a return of 6 goals and 8 assists in 36 appearances. The biggest news for Asensio was his transfer to Real Madrid on the 5th of December. Part of the deal involved an immediate loan back to Mallorca so he could finish the season with Los Bermellones. Both of the La Liga giants were showing interest in Asensio again, and it was actually the Catalonian club that made the first move to sign the youngster. The Spaniard apparently flew to Barcelona to check out houses in the area, but the club couldn’t strike a deal with Mallorca. Firstly, they wanted to pay in instalments rather than upfront, and secondly they wanted Asensio to join their youth team rather than sending him back on loan. Real Madrid then came swooping in and eventually got the man they wanted.
After pre-season with Real Madrid, the club decided to send Asensio on loan to La Liga team RCD Espanyol. He made his debut for the Catalonia-based club against David Moyes’ Real Sociedad on the 19th of September and he managed to win a penalty for his new club. He also got his first assist against Valencia a week later in a narrow 1-0 win.
Talent Radar Accolades
Asensio was part of the victorious Spain U-19 team that won the European Championship in July 2015 and he was even awarded with the “golden player” accolade. In March 2015, Asensio was called up to the U-21 team and he made his debut against the Norway U-21 team in an international friendly.
Style of play, Strengths and Weaknesses
Often played on the wings when he was first integrated into the team, Asensio played his best football when he was deployed in a more central role behind the striker. Blessed with excellent vision and intelligence on the pitch at such a young age, Asensio has a great understanding of when to release the ball to a teammate and when to have a go at goal. His vision and timing of balls often leave defenders exposed, although the weight of the balls are questionable at times.
Asensio possesses great close control and dribbling ability. He is always willing to take on opponents and to receive it in tight areas where he can show off his flair and acceleration to beat players. He’s fantastic at picking the ball up from deep and starting counter attacks for his team by carrying the ball through either the centre or the wings, and he often makes the right decision when he enters the final third.
An accomplished crosser of the ball, Asensio was competent enough to take set pieces for Mallorca and is now in charge of dead ball situations for Espanyol. The only goal scored in the victory against Valencia came from an Asensio free-kick that he whipped into the box.
The biggest problem for Asensio at the moment is that his game is very one footed, in which he relies heavily on his left foot. Few footballers are naturally two-footed, but many practise with their weaker foot until it gets to a level where they can control, pass and shoot on their weaker side.
Finishing is also not Asensio’s greatest strength. Whilst he can hit the ball cleanly and usually tries to strike the ball low, his finishing occasionally lacks conviction. This is something he can easily improve on the training ground and will not hold him back in the future. A return of six goals in the Segunda División last year with Mallorca is tolerable for someone his age, but to force himself in the mix at Real Madrid, he will need to be at least doubling those numbers!
As expected of someone the age of Asensio and with his body still developing, his fitness has come into to question at times, especially at the tail end of last season.
What does the future hold?
Breaking into Real Madrid isn’t the easiest thing to do at the age of 19, especially in the attacking midfield role in which Gareth Bale, James Rodríguez and Isco can all play in. Another year or two out loan would be justified to satiate Marco Asensio’s need for game time and improving his natural fitness.
Asensio has all the qualities of a typical Spanish midfielder and will likely be making his debut for the national senior team sooner rather than later alongside the likes of Koke and Óliver Torres. The next generation of Spanish midfielders will likely be the envy of the rest of Europe.
Written by Alex Saidy-Smith
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