The Atletico left-back, on loan at Alaves last season, has completed a move to the Santiago Bernabeu as Fabio Coentrao heads out the exit door
Real Madrid have their first new signing for 2017-18. Just as Barcelona and some other top teams around Europe looked to join the battle to buy Theo Hernandez from Atletico, the player underwent a medical with Los Blancos in May and completed a summer switch to the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.
Theo was on loan all of last season at Alaves and the 19-year-old come of age with some impressive performances in the Basque Country, playing a key part in the side’s success in La Liga and also their run to the final of the Copa del Rey – in which he scored with a fantastic free-kick versus Barcelona.
With pace, power, strength and excellent technique that he showed with that goal and also a superb strike against Athletic Club from the edge of the box in a league game back on May, it is remarkable to consider that Theo is still just 19. He is a player who is only going to get better and better.
In hindsight, Atletico will wish he had stayed with them instead of going out on loan, but Theo was upset at the lack of opportunities he received with the Rojiblancos prior to his loan move (he never made a first-team appearance for Diego Simeone’s side) and ultimately, his head was turned by a lucrative offer from Real.
Madrid, of course, already have the world’s best left-back in Marcelo, so the move is still somewhat surprising. However, it has been a problem position for Los Blancos when the Brazilian is unavailable and Fabio Coentrao openly admitted last season that he was not up to the task mentally or physically to turn out for a club like Real. But with the Portuguese back in his homeland on loan with Sporting and Theo now signed, Madrid finally have good back-up on the left.
In fact, Real’s squad is so strong these days that coach Zinedine Zidane can call upon world-class players to come in all over the pitch when the first-choice footballers are rested. Left-back was perhaps the one real exception and that showed as Coentrao started at Granada in May as Marcelo stayed on the bench ahead of the Champions League clash against Atletico.
But just as Marcelo was signed as a teenager and took time to adapt before making himself an undisputed starter at the Santiago Bernabeu, Theo will now have the opportunity to learn and develop similarly at Real. Over a long season, he should have plenty of opportunities to start as well.
The transfer breaks a so called “gentleman’s agreement” between Madrid and Atletico that was supposed to stop the two teams from signing each other’s players and it has been reported in Spain that Real will play €30m in total to keep their rivals happy.
However, the player himself wanted to leave and had Madrid not made the move, Los Blancos could have ended up losing out to Barcelona or a European rival like Bayern Munich.
The current Champions League and La Liga holders already boast the strongest squad in all of Europe and two of their objectives for the summer were to bring in back-up options for both Marcelo and Casemiro.
With Theo, their problems when Marcelo is absent on the left-hand side of the defence now look to be a thing of the past and they will hope the 19-year-old, who represents France at Under-20 level, can turn into one of the best full-backs around, just like Dani Carvajal has done over on the right.