Carlo Ancelotti has jokingly threatened to retire from football management if Real Madrid midfielder Fede Valverde fails to register a double-digit goal tally this season.
The 24-year-old Uruguayan has started the season like a house on fire, scoring three goals and assisting twice in eight matches across all competitions, including a Puskas-worthy solo effort against Mallorca last weekend.
Los Blancos recovered from going a goal down to beat the Balearic Island club 4-1 in La Liga, with Valverde restoring parity on the stroke of half-time with an inspired finish that started deep inside his own half.
Collecting a short pass from Dani Ceballos just outside the Real box, Valverde went on a marauding run that saw him gallop up the turf, skipping past Mallorca players, and then uncorking from distance to breach Predrag Rajkovic’s net.
The strike, from his weaker foot no less, was an improvised piece of individual brilliance, and has even prompted his manager to jest that he’ll put down his tactics board at the end of this season for good if he doesn’t reach at least 10 goals in 2022/23.
Valverde followed up in midweek by breaking the deadlock against RB Leipzig in Real’s 2-0 Champions League win, eliciting the tongue-in-cheek threat from the esteemed tactician.
Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid betting tips from Squawka Bet
- Vinicius Junior to score anytime @12/5 with Betfair
- Vinicius Junior to have 2+ shots on target @3/1 with SkyBet
18+ only. Please gamble responsibly. For more information, visit begambleaware.org. All odds and offers in this article are valid at time of publication.
Following that Group F triumph on Wednesday night, Ancelotti said: “What seemed strange to me was that he just scored once last season. I told him that if he was not able to score more than 10 goals, I’d have to rip up my coach’s licence. He has a rock in his foot.”
Indeed Valverde has already matched his best-ever tally for the club in a single season, which came in 2020/21, and he’ll be looking to surpass that on Sunday as Real face city-rivals Atletico Madrid in the first El Derbi Madrileno of the campaign.