He’s into year three of his Real Madrid career already and you could argue that it’s yet to fully take off, however, if you have any concerns as to what direction Rodrygo Goes‘ career at the Santiago Bernabéu is heading, you shouldn’t. There are many reasons as to why you can remain hopeful that he can – and still will – reach the levels that he’s expected to.
Granted, up until now the young Brazilian’s time with Los Blancos has felt like it started off perfectly yet has quietened down in more recent times. Although who will forget his debut against Osasuna on Matchday 6 in 2019, scoring just minutes after coming into the game? In addition to this, that unforgettable ‘perfect hat-trick’ in the Champions League against Galatasaray!? (Still remains as the second youngest-ever player to do so in the history of the competition).
If we’re to be very honest though, are those two stand-out big moments taking our minds away from the reality in that his Real career to this point has shown more flashes and promise as opposed to one of consistency? Probably not.
With that said, how much of it is down to the player himself and his performances? How much is it down to the competition he has with others for a starting role, and how much is it down Carlo Ancelotti having to stick with what he’s seeing from others who are performing just as well as Rodrygo or possibly even better?
The burning question we all want to answer is can Rodrygo become a star at Real Madrid just as they signed him to be? Well, it depends on how you want to define ‘star’ because arguably he already is! Let’s take a look at how exactly…
When given opportunities, he takes them and shows he already is a talented player
So far this season the 21-year-old has featured 22 times for the club with 10 starts to his name. they breakdown as follows: Six in La Liga, three in the CL with one in the Copa del Rey. Within those 22 appearance’s he has two goals and four assists, all of which with the expectation of one assist have come in the CL. In terms of total minutes played, he has 953 minutes to his name in all competitions coming from the bench or as a starter. This is the 15th most by a Los Blancos player overall with 580 of those coming in La Liga, again, the 15th most of all Real player and 4th among forwards
Starting with La Liga, Rodrygo has featured 16 times making just six starts. Within the minutes he has had, he is yet to register his name on the scoresheet and has just have the one assist – of which came when set up David Alaba’s first goal for the club against Barcelona in the 2-1 win at the Camp Nou back on Matchday 10.
As far as his league form is concerned, it seems starts are just not there for him as much as they are in the CL, and in fact, his only contribution in terms of stats in the league is that he’s picked up a team second-highest of four yellow cards this season – only Casemiro has more with 7 to his name. The goals and assist ratio per 90 minutes of 0.16 sits him at just 16th best among all teammates while among his rival forwards who he’s competing against for starts with, Rodrygo fins himself dead last which in terms of creativity and input could cause some concerns.
He is, however, thriving in the CL and unlike in La Liga, he’s had more opportunity to start games and this shows massively when you compare his output to that which we are seeing in the league. Having featured in five of the team’s six games with three starts, it’s clear to see he is showing his star ability given he has two of each when it comes to goals and assists – only Karim Benzema has scored more goals while Vinicius Júnior is the only Real player to provide more assists.
What stands out is that his G+A per 90 minutes ratio of 0.16 in the league shoots through the roof to 1.25 and only Marco Asensio, who is getting the opportunity to play more in the league than Rodrygo has a better G+A ratio than the 21-year-old! Of course, Asensio’s 5.29 is leading the way in Europe although this is very much down to the fact that he’s not started a CL game and has only registered just 34 minutes in total so the sample size isn’t sufficient enough to compare the two players’ contributions as much as it is when it comes to the league.
What is clear to see is that in terms of his own performances there are two big differences in Rodrygo’s contributions when it comes to the league and CL. The biggest thing that stands out overall and is clearer than day itself is that when given opportunities, he is taking them and showing he is a star already!
Basing it all on individual performances, should we be questioning his star quality at the club? Absolutely not! what about his ability to continue to be a star at Real Madrid? Maybe.
However, is that down to him falling short of starts in the league due to the performance of a player such as Asensio? Yes, it is, then again should that actually be the case? In a short form.. No! We will however leave that debate for another day!
But compared to his nearest rival, Rodrygo’s falling short in terms of production
When you compare Rodrygo’s contributions to those of his teammates, he has featured the exact same amount of times this season as his most direct competitor as mentioned before – Asensio. Both players have played 22 games apiece while both have made 10 starts in all competitions. However, Asensio seemingly has the upper hand and as mentioned previously especially in LaLiga.
Marco has started four more games than Rodrygo even if he’s only played 28 minutes more.
That said, Asensio is setting himself apart from Rodrygo simply for the fact that he’s provided Real Madrid with five more goals, something of which Rodrygo is yet to do this season. As such, Asensio hold’s a better G+A per 90 ratio with 0.50 – 5th best on the team. Not only that but Marco also has the third-best expected goals ratio of 3.8 compared to that of Rodrygo’s 1.1.
There’s also a case where Marco has a better expected assist ratio of 1.3 to Rodrygo’s 0.4. To continue the trend, the Spaniard’s expected goals + assist per 90 mins ratio of 0.51 once again outmatches Rodrygo’s 0.24 – 3rd best among all forwards and 6th best overall.
In truth then Asensio continues to show that he is vital to all things that are for the better of the team and for Rodrygo to rival him, as stated earlier, you have to look at Champions League performances and by doing so as well as combining all stats from all other competition’s, the difference between the two does become much closer.
That said, Asensio still holds the advantage over Rodrygo across the board with the exception of expected assists per 90 mins, where he’s ahead of the Spaniard.
With all this in mind, neither player is exactly near the level of Vinicius Júnior or Karim Benzema who are leading the way for Carlo Ancelotti’s team and take the word ‘star’ and give it a completely different meaning altogether!
It isn’t all that bad for Rodrygo though and that’s mainly because the likes of Gareth Bale not playing for the club and Eden Hazard, who isn’t enduring a great start to the season and in fact isn’t even getting a look in right now. Actually, the 21-year-old has featured in and started more games as well as playing more minutes than both combined!
As of right now, Rodrygo is statistically the fourth option for Ancelotti going forward but will that have an impact on him being a star at the club? Well, yes it will because where he is in terms of that statistical order, it’s also seemingly translating into a pecking order, too. You could definitely argue that it wouldn’t and shouldn’t because if you are at a level where you are unplayable you will undoubtedly become a first name on the team sheet something that Rodrygo seems to be doing in Europe but for some reason, not so much domestically.
So, what does Rodrygo have to do to force himself into contention more overall than he already is to prove his star ability? According to his manager, nothing because his position in the starting XI is more determined by the form rather than anything else, something of which makes sense but doesn’t given what we have seen that Rodrygo can do!
“I also have to think about players like Rodrygo, who has always done well when chosen.”
Speaking most recently after Los Blancos’ 4-1 win over Valencia, when asked by the media about his attacking options, Carlo Ancelotti stated that while the front three of Benzema, Vini, and Asensio were good, they are not guaranteed to start games especially Asensio? he said:
The front three were good, but not guaranteed to start every game as I also have to think about players like Rodrygo, who has always done well when chosen.”
Ancelotti mentioned that if Asensio plays like he did in Real’s 1-0 defeat to Getafe on Matchday 19, then there is no assurance that he would last the whole 90 mins and in fact he even mentioned that he brought him off after just 45 minutes, saying: “He played really well, much better than he did against Getafe. If he plays well, he gets the full 90 minutes and if he doesn’t, he’ll play 45 like in Getafe.”
There can be no doubt that Ancelotti is a fan of Rodrygo and has mentioned the Brazilian a number of times and just as recently as October last year.
What’s next for Rodrygo at Real Madrid?
The season is still pretty early and opportunities will continue to arise for Rodrygo, after all, Real Madrid are still very much alive in Europe as well as domestically with cup competitions. There can be no doubt that he won’t cease on these opportunities either given his performances so far.
With that said, he does need to become even more of the opportunist we have seen him be in Europe, taking his chances and showing his star ability as well as finding a level of consistency, in particularly, domestically. If he can do that he WILL become a star for Real Madrid, I have zero doubts about it we are already seeing it!
In terms of competition standing in his way from doing so, we cannot and should not assume that Asensio will continue to dominate the right winger position – not because we hope he doesn’t or anything but staying realistic, it would be difficult for him to do so and I’m personally still not overly sure about him being the first choice but that’s a matter of personal opinion.
Anyway, something we can guarantee and say for Rodrygo right now is that games, time on the pitch as well as opportunities for consistent runs in the starting XI will arrive and there can be no doubt that he can take them as we have very well seen.
Rodrygo can and will absolutely go on to be a star at Real Madrid, of course! Will it happen though? Eventually, I believe so and in fact, he’s already showing us he’s a star, just look at what he produces on the ‘big stage’ be it European nights or El Clásico games (let’s not mention the missed opportunity in front of goal in the Supercopa the other night although he did set up Fede Valvarde’s winning goal!)
On top of all this, I firmly believe his youth will have a big part to play in it all as well because he’s not even anywhere near his peak yet but when he’s on the pitch, he gets the ball, it gets people on their feet – that’s a star!
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Again though I will say, it’s consistency not quality that remains in his way and in particular, consistency in his league form but if and when he addresses this, Rodrygo Goes WILL become a star at Real Madrid.