I’m going to start this with a disclaimer: I am a Barcelona fan, I make no secret of this. However I try to be impartial and and recognise the abilities, innovations and strengths of other teams and their players. I think I do a pretty well, but who knows.
Ok, on to Nacho. For those of you who don’t know, he is a Real Madrid defender who can play comfortably across the backline and, frankly, I feel sorry for him. Why do I feel sorry for him? Because of the colossus of chaos himself: Sergio Ramos. No matter how well he plays he will always be dropped in favour of Ramos purely because of his name.
This season is already the perfect example; Sergio Ramos has been nothing short of atrocious so far this season – cards and penalties have come at rate of one every game, and that doesn’t even mention his awful positioning. He leaves both Marcelo and Varane exposed by leaving gaps when he charges forward. Truly, Ramos has been nothing short of shocking.
Nacho however has been by far Real’s best centre back this season (and has been excellent when filling in at left back) no matter where he has played. Lets take the Madrid derby as an example Whoscored.com listed him as the best defender on the pitch and the fourth best player in total (after Navas, Bale and Ronaldo) what is his reward for excelling in such a big match? A spot on the bench alongside rejects Fabio Coentrao and James Rodriguez.
So other than being an easy target for dropping in favour of a big name, what else is there to say about Nacho? Well he is a product of Real’s La Fabrica youth system (which depending on how you count is the most successful in Europe), he is regularly in the squad for the Spanish national team as a backup defender, he is very short for a CB at 5 foot 10 inches and often fills in at left back. And I don’t mean the Azpilicueta style right footed defender who just protects his flank, Nacho comfortably charges up and down his flank, crossing with both feet and being a useful wide link player with excellent quick passing – the 2-2 draw with Las Palmas is an excellent example of this.
So why do I consider him overlooked? Because no matter what he does he will never establish himself as the Real Madrid Regular he needs to be to gain a mainstream following, Nor will he leave RM due to his home-grown status being useful for Real and him loving his youth club.
So both for now and the foreseeable future he will remain a reliable backup and nothing more. But make no mistake he is probably the most reliable backup in the world – and at the very least, that deserves recognition.