Football News

Federico Valverde reveals he had Arsenal trial before Real Madrid move

By Harry Edwards

Published: 14:09, 9 September 2023 | Updated: 11:09, 15 September 2023

Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde has revealed he had a trial with Arsenal before making the move to Spain.

Valverde is one of the top midfielders in European football right now, starting 29 games for Real Madrid in La Liga last season. Battling for central midfield roles with the likes of Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in the past, Valverde spent a large part of his Real Madrid career as a utility man.

The Uruguayan was squeezed into teams where possible and even showed up at right-back on occasion, with Real Madrid struggling for depth beyond Dani Carvajal. Even last season Valverde was played out on the wing, though it was a freer role which allowed him to press from a higher starting position, rather than being an out-and-out winger.

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Across all competitions last season, Valverde was directly involved in 19 goals, scoring 12 and recording seven assists. It was form that saw Valverde on the wishlists of a number of Premier League clubs, including Manchester United and Chelsea. In the end, Valverde remained at Real Madrid, and started three of their first four league games as part of a new-look midfield, built off of youth.

However, things could have been so much different. Valverde joined Real Madrid from Uruguayan side Penarol in 2016, again having been highly sought-after by a number of European clubs. One of those clubs was Arsenal, as well as Barcelona and Chelsea.

According to the reports at the time, Arsenal made an offer for Valverde — then 16 — of around £2m and the man himself has revealed he went on loan with the Gunners, speaking highly of Alexis Sanchez.


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“I have always been grateful to him,” Valverde told reports of Sanchez ahead of Uruguay’s World Cup qualifier against Chile.

“When I went to train at Arsenal, Alexis was there and he was one of the few who came up to help me. I will always be grateful to him because, being a nobody, I was well received by him. He was there to help me when I was a kid.

“As a footballer he is an incredible player.”

While Valverde is another one that got away for Arsene Wenger, fast forward eight years and Arsenal have an impressive midfield on which they will look to build a Premier League title run. The Gunners were so close to glory last season, leading the Premier League title for so long before key injuries and Manchester City’s experience saw Arsenal have to settle for second.

The marquee Arsenal signing of the summer was that of Declan Rice, bought from West Ham for £105m — a British transfer record for a short period — and he’s already started to pay that back. Slotting perfectly into the base of Arsenal’s midfield, Rice looks as though he has been at the Emirates for years rather than just a few months. And despite being a defensive midfielder, he got a crucial winning goal in the recent 3-1 victory over Manchester United. If Arsenal fans didn’t love him before, they certainly did after.

Rice and Valverde are different players, so Arsenal haven’t replaced what they could have had, but it might have been a dream midfield duo.

Despite Jude Bellingham taking up a lot of attacking responsibilities at Real Madrid, Valverde has been flexing his creative muscles, keeping Luka Modric on the bench. The Uruguayan has created seven chances in La Liga so far this season, at an average of 2.26 per 90 minutes, as well as 24.84 final third passes attempted per 90.

If you were to combine that with Rice’s tackles and aerial duel ability, Arsenal would be a ball carrier away from the perfect trio. What could have been.

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