Forget Mbappe and Dembele, Marco Asensio is the real deal
That day, Marco Asensio was in tears. He wished his mother was there, the woman whose dream he was fulfilling at that moment. But life can be cruel at times, it was with him – he had lost her to cancer in 2011, at the tender age of 15.
12 years to that moment, she had told a billionaire construction magnate, “this is our son, Marco, and one day he will play for Real Madrid.” That man was Florentino Perez, who recalled that incident that day when Marco Asensio stood beside him, teary-eyed, as Real Madrid’s new signing.
Asensio had fulfilled his mother’s dream, but she wasn’t there to see it. You could see the pain in his tears; after all, every child wants to see the smiling faces of their parents after accomplishing their dreams.
But, alas, he couldn’t see her smile. The excruciating moments of his mother’s final moments must have relighted in his head. She must have said, ‘son, work hard and realise my dream, I will be cheering from up above.’
And when he blasted a shot past Marc-Andre ter Stegen after eluding Gerard Pique, her soul must have raised arms and exclaimed to the angels, ‘that’s my boy!’ – of this, there is no doubt. She, a Dutch, loved football and named her son 'Marco' after the great van Basten.
The rise and rise of Asensio
Marco Asensio Willemsen started making a name for himself while playing for RCD Mallorca. Despite being only 17 years-old, he made his first-team debut for Mallorca in the second division of Spain and instantly made an impact.
Initially a winger, his then coach, Valeri Karpin, moved him to the centre and further enhanced his game. After repeated insistence from tennis star, Rafael Nadal, who is a Madridista and also owns a stake at Mallorca, Real Madrid snapped up the whizkid as a mere 18-year-old on December, 2014, and let him stay at Mallorca on loan for the rest of the reason.
After another year on loan at Espanyol, where he was highly impressive, Asensio was retained for the 2016-17 season. It was the beginning of his rise at Real Madrid as he scored on his competitive debut, league debut, Champions League debut and Copa del Rey debut that season.
And his debut in the Spanish Super Cup against Barcelona also saw him score a stunner after evading his marker, Gerard Pique, with a blazing shot.
The Special Asensio
By now, most of you must have realised that Asensio is a special talent. We are living at a time where there are a good three or four kids who are taking the football world by storm. Kylian Mbappe, Marcus Rashford and Ousmane Dembele are being earmarked as future Ballon d’Or winners, but the one creating lesser attention is perhaps better than all of them.
Marco Asensio doesn’t zig-zag past his opponents with mazy dribbles, neither will he do fancy step-overs. It is for this reason that he isn’t talked of in the same breath as the other three. However, what makes him better than them is his ability to make the right decisions at the right time.
He knows when to take on the defenders and when to just play a simple pass. This maturity when it comes to taking decisions is what makes him such a wonderful player. The former Mallorca player hovers around the pitch, connecting the play with the rest of his team-mates in the most delightful manner.
It is almost like a spider moving around, weaving its web all around the park for the opponents to fall prey in. And almost often, they do. His finishing is also another great asset. Most of his goals at Madrid have come from precise placing of the ball.
Be it his debut stunner against Sevilla last season – where he caressed the ball to the top-right corner with unbelievable control – or his Champions League final goal against Juventus, which exuded his brilliant awareness of the goal, this kid knows how to put the ball into the net with grace.
He oozes a sense of humility coupled with confidence on the pitch. When asked about how he approaches the game, he said, “I never get nervous on the football field, I have been playing this game all my life.”
This is the kind of attitude that assures a bright future for the Mallorcan star. While there is no doubt that Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele are enormously talented, Marco Asensio is the better player and has more chances of succeeding than the two Frenchman.
Both Dembele and Mbappe have an insane amount of natural talent, but often lack the maturity in decision-making – especially the former – which is something Asensio has in abundance at such a young age.
"It's an emotional day," he said when he was presented as Real Madrid’s new player. "I have dreamed of this since I was young. I would like to thank my family, my father and my brother, and my mother, who I know is always supporting me from above."
She is, Marco, and she always will be – you have already made her proud, kid.