MARCO ASENSIO is being hailed as the new prince of Real Madrid following his exploits against Barcelona on Wednesday.
The 21-year-old scored a rasping worldie to help his side to a 2-0 victory over their great rivals, securing 5-1 triumph in the Spanish Super Cup.
Even without Cristiano Ronaldo, still the undoubted king of the Bernabeu, the youngster demonstrated why he is more than just a pretender to throne and hailed as THE Spanish player of his generation against the Catalans.
And, like CR7, Asensio is developing quite the knack of scoring in big matches – especially on his debuts.
He has bagged on his La Liga, Champions League, Copa del Rey, Uefa Super Cup and now Supercopa bows.
His strike last night must have been all the more painful for Barca, still reeling from losing Neymar to PSG for £198m, to stomach knowing he could have been lining-up for them.
The Nou Camp will no doubt be kicking themselves for rejecting the chance to sign Asensio for just £4million.
Despite supporting Madrid as a child, he had become mesmerised by Lionel Messi and co at Barca and was ready to change his colours.
Barca sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta spotted the ace’s talents back in 2014 and urged club chiefs to back him to finalise a deal.
The midfielder was already looking for a house in Castelldefels, a coastal town just outside of Barcelona, before the troubles began and the deal was off.
Nou Camp officials decided to squabble with Mallorca over paying his asking price up front and that allowed Madrid to swoop in 2015.
It was a move that appeared to be written in the stars as this fairytale seems to be just beginning.
And like every good man, there is a good woman behind him.
Last year he confirmed he had bagged himself a winner with the gorgeous Marina Muntaner.
The blonde beauty and Asensio announced they were dating twelve months ago and were happy to pose for pictures together.
Things could, literally, not be going better for the youngster. But how did the man described by boss Zinedine Zidane as having the best left foot since Lionel Messi get to his new-found heights?
Born in Mallorca to a Spanish father and Dutch mother, Asensio was set for football superstardom from the day he was born, named Marco after the legendary Marco van Basten.
By the time he was eight, his mother had already declared that her son would be a Real Madrid player.
Real Madrid supremo Florentino Perez once said: “Your parents met me 12 years ago in Mallorca and they told me: ‘President, this is my son Marco and one day he will play for Real Madrid’.”
However, it has not all been plain sailing as he suffered heartbreak when his mother died of cancer in 2011 when Asensio was just 15. And he dedicates each goal he scores to her.
He earned his move to Real Madrid thanks to his impressive performances with Mallorca, where after impressing in the B team, the midfielder made his first-team debut in the 2013-14 season aged just 17.
It wasn’t just in Spain where he was turning heads though, Asensio burst onto the international scene at the 2015 under-19 European Championship.
He helped Spain to victory and was named player of the tournament, starting all eight of his country’s games and scoring five times, two of which came in the semi-final against France.
After the tournament, Asensio did actually end up in Catalonia, making the loan move from Madrid to Espanyol, like Kiko Casilla, Jose Callejon and Lucas Vazquez did before him.
That temporary switch only helped his stock rise, playing 34 times in the league, racking up four goals and ten assists.
In fact, only Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Koke, Neymar and Ronaldo provided more La Liga assists that season.
And his displays caught the eye of Vicente del Bosque, who was Spain coach at the time.
He said: “He is the biggest talent in Spain. We were on the verge of taking him to the European Championship.”
He didn’t make it to Euro 2016 but he did make his senior international debut for his country in June last year in a warm-up match for the tournament against Bosnia-Herzegovina.
He returned to Madrid and he has continued to see his stock rise with seemingly ever appearance he makes.
And his impending rise to the top perhaps highlights the change of power in developing youngsters into world stars from Barcelona to Madrid.
Real may have liked to spend big money on Galacticos in the past, but if Asensio continues at this rate they may just have their next one already within their ranks… and he will have cost them a lot less than some of their stellar signings of previous years.
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