Real Madrid are set to employ Nacho at right full-back against Real Sociedad next weekend in a move to get the Spaniard ready to play in the same position against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
With first-choice option Dani Carvajal suspended for both legs of the round of 16 clash, Zinedine Zidane wants the 28-year-old to make the right-side berth his own and settle back into the side.
As such, the Whites boss sees next Saturday’s La Liga home clash with Real Sociedad as the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Alternatively, according to Marca, Zidane may opt to field Carvajal against the Andalusian outfit for fear of Nacho picking up an injury.
Nacho was an unused substitute during the 2-2 draw with Levante on Saturday night but has otherwise been a regular this term, featuring 29 times in all competitions.
Los Blancos, who are seeking their third straight European Cup title, face a PSG side on Wednesday (February 14) looking for their first crown and boasting the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani in their line-up.
Sergio Ramos couldn’t hide his disappointment after Real Madrid conceded a late equaliser against Levante on Saturday night in La Liga.
The Whites twice led at the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia but poor defending cost Zinedine Zidane’s team dearly as Italian Giampaolo Pazzini scored with one minute left on the clock to make it 2-2.
That result has left Los Blancos 18 points behind eternal rivals Barcelona in the table and struggling for confidence ahead of the upcoming Champions League last 16 clash with Paris Saint-Germain.
“It is not normal to be at this distance. Something we have done wrong, letting out many points in games that were controlled. It has been one of our worst years,” the 31-year-old, who scored Madrid’s opener, said.
He added: “We are disappointed because it was a game that we had controlled in general and in the end the points escaped us.
“We had a good first half, playing well and overtaking, but on their first occasion they tied us.
“It is true that this season has happened to us several times but things improve with work. You have to keep working and not lower your arms.
“In this situation, we must be united and strong, and be positive to improve. We believe in our capacity.”
Zidane’s men host PSG at the Bernabeu on February 14, with the Spanish giants looking to make it three European crowns in a row.
“The team works, nobody is hiding, everyone goes to the front and when there is a complicated situation you have to be protected, be united, and it is the only way to do something worthwhile in the Champions League.”
With Real Madrid‘s wretched and inconsistent La Liga form showing no sign of letting up following Saturday night’s disappointing draw with lowly Levante, it has raised plenty of question marks about the Los Blancos squad and if indeed boss Zinedine Zidane has the right personnel at his disposal.
Here, we look at how players, who were ousted by Zidane in the summer, have fared since being shipped out of the Bernabeu.
Moved to Bayern Munich on a two-year loan deal
Without doubt, the Colombian has been the player Madrid have missed most this term. The 26-year-old playmaker has been at the heart of Bayern’s resurgence, plundering four goals and seven assists in 15 matches – helping the Bavarians to 10 straight Bundesliga wins.
Indeed, he has been involved in a goal every 106 minutes in 2018 and his finish in the win over Mainz was stunning. These damning stats shouldn’t make unusual reading for Zidane and Madrid, given Rodriguez scored eight goals in just 22 La Liga appearances last season, as well as weighing in with six assists.
This, however, wasn’t enough to convince Zizou to keep him despite the attacker saying he had no issue with the Frenchman. He was crucial in rotation last season and the dip in form of chief midfield orchestrator Isco only reinforces the reason for not allowing him to leave.
While Madrid can’t cut short the loan agreement and recall Rodriguez, Bayern can make the deal permanent given a clause in the terms which sees the German giants have the option of purchasing the former Porto star for €48.5m (€42m transfer fee plus annual €6.5m loan fee) this summer.
That won’t be music to the ears of Madrid fans, with many being keen to see him back in a Whites jersey in the future. Expect Bayern to sign his permanently.
How much he is missed – 9/10
Moved to Chelsea for €67m (Dh306m)
Real’s chronic goal shortage, particularly in the league, has been one of their biggest problems this season and with hindsight, the decision to sell Spaniard Morata last summer seems now like the wrong call.
Despite suffering with injury problems and indifferent showings of late, the 25-year-old has netted 10 Premier League goals in 20 appearances. It’s a pretty good return for a player who is still finding his feet in England and his league goals haul is to the betterment of Cristiano Ronaldo (8), Gareth Bale (6), Marco Asensio (4) and Karim Benzema, who has incredibly only found the back of the net twice.
Morata may have struggled to cement himself as a Zidane favourite during the club’s double-winning campaign last term, but the decision to oust the boyhood Madridista perhaps came too soon despite the big transfer fee received last summer for his services.
Having proved himself as a goalscorer at Juventus and worked hard to establish himself in the Spanish capital, the school of thought is Morata was harshly treated by Zidane.
How much he is missed – 8/10
Moved to Man City for €30m (Dh137m)
Fresh from his wonder goal in Saturday’s draw at Burnley, the Brazilian is starting to show his full worth at his new club despite having to operate in various positions.
While the 26-year-old only played a bit-part role for Madrid last season, his versatility offered Zidane’s side different options and given the likes of Marcelo, captain Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal have all spent time out injured, in addition to Raphael Varane’s inconsistent positional play at centre-back, perhaps he was worth keeping as a squad player.
In the end, the Spanish giants received a sizeable fee for a man who wasn’t playing regularly but looking at Danilo’s stats for City, a high pass completion of nearly 90 percent in all competitions and two goals from defence have underlined he was a good signing for Pep Guardiola’s men from a defensive and attacking perspective.
How much he is missed – 6/10
Moved to Besiktas on a free
A club stalwart for a decade at the Bernabeu, the 34-year-old’s contract was winding down and his free transfer to Besiktas was the right decision all round.
An argument could be made that Madrid miss his leadership and experience on and off the pitch, but it would be harsh to say the club made the wrong decision in not offering him a new deal.
Pepe rarely featured last season and was prone to too many errors. Still, his contribution to the cause will always be fondly remembered.
How much he is missed – 3/10
Moved to Lyon for €8.1M (Dh37m)
The promising forward was always going to struggle to break through into Real’s brilliant double-winning side last season but did he deserve more than his 14 outings in white, which in turn yielded five goals?
The answer now is certainly a resounding yes given the 24-year-old has struck 15 goals (13 in the league – two more than Neymar) in 28 appearances for Lyon since his move and generally looked in outstanding form, having the highest conversion rate (20 percent) from shots fired outside the box too.
With youth on his side, Diaz deserved more of an opportunity at the Bernabeu and you could make a good argument that he offers a lot more in terms of pace, goals and natural ability than Borja Mayoral.
Behind closed doors, Real must regret discarding him so cheaply and quickly – and you have to say, ultimately – it was a poor move given the amount of investment Madrid made in the player through his C team and Castilla days. Similar to Morata, why treat one of your own, so to speak, with such little remorse?
How much he is missed – 7/10