Uruguay legend Diego Forlan says he is not surprised by the emergence of compatriot Federico Valverde and has tipped the Real Madrid midfielder to follow in the footsteps of Sergio Ramos.
Forlan, 40, worked with the hot prospect closely during the duo’s time together at Penarol, whom Los Blancos acquired Valverde’s services from in 2016.
The rise of Valverde: Five things to know…
- Real Madrid prised Valverde away from boyhood club Penarol in 2016, where he moved straight into the club’s Castilla ranks.
- Following the appointment of Julen Lopetegui in 2018 Valverde was promoted to the first team.
- Despite the Spaniard’s eventual dismissal and Santiago Solari soon joining him out the door, Valverde found a place in Zinedine Zidane’s plans.
- He has enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence this season and has been tipped for future stardom in Madrid.
- Forlan — who played alongside Valverde at Penarol — has backed his compatriot to go all the way to the top.
Having initially turned out for the club’s Castilla team, Valverde made enough noise in the reserve ranks to earn a promotion under Julen Lopetegui in 2018.
Last season proved a tumultuous one for Los Blancos to say the least, with Florentino Perez wielding the axe twice and reappointing Zinedine Zidane.
Since the Frenchman’s return to the Bernabeu, Valverde’s stock has skyrocketed and he is now a fully-fledged member of Real’ first team.
And Forlan — who played for Real’s arch rivals Atletico during his playing days — has seen enough in the 21-year-old to believe he will have a long and prosperous career in the esteemed colours of the Spanish giants.
Forlan told Radio Marca: “He has the qualities to keep growing. He’s a good boy, a good professional.
“I’m not at all surprised by what I’m seeing of him, because [his qualities] were already there.
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“He is gaining confidence, maturity, experience and is a player that Real Madrid’s supporters will enjoy for many years.
“I’ll risk saying that he can become in midfield what Sergio Ramos has been as a defender.
“I’m not surprised by his emergence, because it comes with age.
“Nowadays he’s realising where he is and he’s [now got] the maturity of life. That will help him a lot; the confidence, maturity, knowing the conditions he has and that he is appreciated a lot at the club.”