Lucas Vázquez, on the pitch of El Sadar last Saturday against Osasuna.ANDER GILLENEA / .
Ten years ago, in Valdebebas a litter of attackers emerged that triggered the illusions of the club: Morata, Jesé, Cheryshev, Sarabia, De Tomás, Joselu … Many have achieved a fertile career and some have even moved very high amounts of money in the market, but the only one of the offensive players of that time who has been able to put down roots in the first team was not on that list of chosen, but behind them. Lucas Vázquez was the cover of those times in the Sports City. A young man who in his time at Juvenil A suffered common muscle injuries and who later in Castilla took two seasons to leave the substitute bench while his teammates aimed for the highest. And his recipe to break through, in reality, was not so different in those beginnings than now in the Bernabéu’s celebrity booth: resist and be the one who jumps.
Except for surprise, this Thursday against Athletic in the semifinal of the Spanish Super Cup (21.00, Movistar) will equal its best streak of consecutive starts (18) in the elite. The personal best was registered in Espanyol in 2014/15, where he hit the final stretch before Rafa Benítez recruited him back. His record in Madrid has been broken for weeks: there were 13 and it dates from the brief time of Santiago Solari in the Castellana band, when the Argentine coach charged Bale and put the Galician, whom he complimented with a very flowery phrase : “He has the virtues that I value the most of the Spanish character: he is supportive and courageous”. Lucas Vázquez, 29, is living his best days at Madrid, a moment that contrasts with an uncertain future. His contract expires in six months and the continuity is far from resolved. “That does not depend only on me,” he has indicated on a couple of occasions, pointing up in case the negotiations fail.
“There were players who started ahead of him, but football surprises,” says Alberto Toril, his coach at the quarry
“It was a bit unknown in the beginning,” recalls Alberto Toril, who directed him in the lower categories, including two and a half years at Castilla. “He was in good condition, although at that age you couldn’t tell if he was going to get where he is now. There were players who, a priori, started ahead of him, but football is surprising ”, explains the coach. The Cordoba coach, for example, in the first two seasons he had him in the big team (2011/12 and 2012/13) he barely lined up 12 times at the start. “Fabinho, Cheryshev, Jesé or Juanfran [Moreno] they were more done. In the quarries you have to wait for your moment and he knew how to take advantage of it. It was persistent and it was entering little by little ”. His time came in the third and last year in Valdebebas, when he went from nineteenth in number of minutes in the two previous seasons to first place. Those hours accumulated in the shadow of his companions, however, left their mark forever. He hired a personal trainer and, as the player himself confessed, this stage helped him “psychologically not to let go.”
Zinédine Zidane, Real Madrid CF coach On video, his statements prior to Thursday’s game. RFEF / VIDEO: ATLAS
Captured by Míchel
On the grass, yes, in that first Lucas, who had been captured by Míchel in 2007 at the age of 16, there was barely a trace of the cut that he had no choice but to resort to after his return, in 2015, if he wanted to prosper at home. At first, his game was limited to looking for the imbalance in attack. “Before he did three or four things in a game and now he is more consistent, able to contribute more and during more games. It is what has given him the opportunity to play for Madrid ”, warns Toril, who has finished his three-year period in the quarry of Chinese Guangzhou.
He is the fifth white player who has played the most games in the two eras of Zidane
All his coaches appreciated him, but under the mantle of Zidane he has never lacked a seat at the table. So much so that the statistics leave a striking fact: he was the player who played the most crashes in the first stage of the French (121) and, in the total sum with Zizou, he is the fifth (174, the same as Varane), after Benzema (192) , Kroos (189), Casemiro (179) and Modric (177), and four more than Ramos, although with a significantly lower percentage of ownership. His latest achievement, being Carvajal’s bodyguard on the right side, a role he will play against Athletic due to the injury of the former.
With him he shared a dressing room in the lower categories, a time in which it was difficult to imagine the Galician on that flank of the rear. “That position can be good for him because of his physical abilities because, as a Madrid winger, you need 15 or 20 goals, and that costs him,” says Alberto Toril. This campaign has already been nine meetings in that role, ahead of the official substitute, Odriozola (30 million cost in 2018), and the other alternatives in principle more natural (Militão -50 disbursement last year- and Nacho).
In the eyes of ZZ, he has long belonged to that non-negotiable retainer with which the Frenchman is willing to go all the way. Its value stopped depending on specific actions. In the coming dates, of course, he will have to face a new threat if he aspires to prolong his sweetest stage: the umpteenth return of Hazard, the eternal one he desired.