With Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modrić — Real Madrid’s trusty trio in midfield — not getting any younger as the seasons continue to tick on by, it’s becoming very clear that Los Blancos are already beginning to plan for a future without their five-time Champions League-winning partnership.
French international Eduardo Camavinga was brought in from Rennes for £34.4 million on transfer deadline day last summer, helping Carlo Ancelotti as a rotation option in the middle of the park when his older counterparts needed to rest their aging legs, and his Les Bleus teammate Aurélien Tchouaméni has been brought in this summer.
At the level their midfield trio are still playing at though, especially Croatian Modrić — who is aging like a fine wine at the ripe age of 36 — it’s hard to see the French duo properly break the mould of the old guard anytime soon, but at £85m you would imagine that Tchouaméni hasn’t been brought in to warm the bench and play second fiddle for the next season or two.
Three years older than 19-year-old Camavinga, Tchouaméni (22) arrives at the iconic Santiago Bernabéu with bags more experience than his compatriot and will be knocking at the door of Ancelotti’s office demanding minutes from the very start of the new La Liga season after featuring on a regular basis for Monaco over the last couple of Ligue 1 campaigns — gaining valuable gametime both domestically and in Europe.
In fact, Tchouaméni made more appearances for Monaco in the French top flight last season than any of his outfield teammates — featuring in all but five of their 38 games.
He is also one of the most experienced under-23s players in Europe, with only Burnley’s Dwight McNeil (6,176) and Declan Rice (6,058) of West Ham United having racked up more minutes in one of Europe’s top five leagues over the last two seasons than Tchouaméni — who has featured for 5,992 minutes as Monaco finished third for successive seasons and thus became more favourable in the bets for football.
One of the potential problems facing the French international is that Casemiro, the youngest of Real Madrid’s regular midfield at just 30, is his main competition and it will take something special to take the place of the Brazilian. Of course, adding a second defensive midfielder offers some versatility, as Tchouaméni often featured in a pivot alongside Youssouf Fofana in a 4-2-3-1 at Monaco.
However, Ancelotti isn’t really one to switch things up from his tried and trusted 4-3-3, with Casemiro as the deepest of the midfield trio — allowing Kroos and Modrić the freedom to break down defences and create golden chances for Madrid’s wealth of attacking options.
Interestingly, Casemiro also featured a lot more than his midfield partners last season. The Brazilian started 31 times in La Liga, playing 2,576 minutes as Madrid reclaimed the title from their cross-city rivals. In comparison, Kroos and Modrić both made 25 starts, racking up 2,112 and 2,050 minutes respectively.
Tchouaméni is by no means restricted to being an out-and-out defensive midfielder though. The 22-year-old can ply his trade as both a box-to-box to midfielder and as a No.8, which will make him a very valuable asset to the Italian manager next season as Madrid look to defend both their La Liga and European crowns.
There’s no doubt that Tchouaméni is a fantastic addition to this Real Madrid squad and he’s a ready-made option to make the step up into their midfield when required next season. Camavinga is proof that there will be ample opportunities for the 22-year-old to shine and prove his worth to the rest of Europe.