Real Madrid midfielder Fede Valverde has hailed the man-management skills of boss Zinedine Zidane and has credited him with his growth.
Valverde joined Madrid from Uruguayan club side Penarol in the summer of 2016 and has made 41 appearances for Los Blancos, the majority of which have come this calendar year.
Indeed, the Uruguay international has featured in 16 matches this campaign – starting 11 – and is an increasingly important clog in the midfield of Zinedine Zidane’s side.
With the long-term form of both Luka Modric and Toni Kroos under question, alongside the possibility of playing in place of holding midfielder Casemiro has led to Valverde’s prominence.
“I worked all my life to be living in this moment,” Valverde told Uruguayan magazine 'Túnel'.
“In the past I was afraid of making mistakes but today I feel like I am at home and part of the squad, I am very comfortable.
“Zinedine Zidane has given me all the confidence. It is not easy to put a 21-year-old kid with little experience in hard games.
“He tells me what to do and what is expected of me, to be taking care of the ball and if I have the opportunity, to try for goal.
“I am adaptable but my strongest position is probably the ‘number 8’ – I can be a little more advanced too but often I have been selected ahead of Casemiro.
“Zidane is making me set my sights even higher to be the best player I can be.”
A report in Marca last month claimed Los Blancos were set to renew the contract of the Uruguayan and show their confidence in him by placing a whopping €750m release clause in the proposed new deal.
The most significant aspect of the deal is the release clause – a whopping €50m more than that of Lionel Messi at Barcelona – with this new contact set to run through until 2025.
The contracts of Kroos and Casemiro are set to expire in the summer of 2023, with Modric’s lasting until 2021.