"Laughing" and "well-groomed" are surely two of the superficial adjectives that best define him. Marcos Llorente (Madrid, 23 years old) completed during the final of the Club World Cup a sequence of scenes in which a habitual secondary character like him ended up stealing all the protagonism to the main actors, even when his career did not augur more than two sentences until just a few weeks ago. Forgotten by Zidane and Lopetegui, the arrival of Solari to the bench of Madrid, together with the injury of Casemiro, has allowed this player lover of physical care and healthy food (is a follower of the paleodieta: biological products, fish, meat, chicken, rice, some legumes and unpasteurized milk) to break off in the final stretch of 2018 in which there is no longer any exit in the winter market.
"Everything changes overnight and you have to be prepared," he told reporters after Madrid's victory against Al Ain, in which he scored one of the four goals and was chosen as the best player, thus adding to both only Spaniards who had achieved it: Raúl, in 1998, and Sergio Ramos, in 2014. "You should never lower your arms, and when you get chances like these you have to take them," said the player, who during the last season and media has maintained its rhythms of personal work despite being in the most absolute sporting ostracism.
It is enough to contemplate their numbers to notice the atypical of their current situation. During the 62 games that Zidane led in his last season at Madrid, 2017-2018, Marcos Llorente only disputed 20, less than a third, completing 1,093 minutes out of a total of 5,580, just 19.5%. Yield to Alavés the previous year, not only had the confidence of Mauricio Pellegrino (he lined up in 38 of the 47 matches, including the Cup final against Barcelona), but his individual records (he recovered 335 balls, the ninth best record of the championship) aroused the interest of large European clubs.
However, despite his remarkable performance in Vitoria, the Frenchman kept his confidence in Casemiro, who played 48 games that season, doubling loosely the only player who directly opposed the post of midfielder. In spite of the panorama, Llorente, of deep lineage madridista (son of Paco Llorente, nephew-grandson of Gento), accepted the proposal of renewal offered by Madrid in 2017 and that keeps him linked to the club until June 2021. The march of Zidane and the arrival of Lopetegui opened a new horizon for him, although the preferences of the Basque nation soon became clear, which opted for Ceballos in the line of three midfielders: eleven matches played by the Andalusian for one from Madrid.
With Solari everything has changed. The sprain in the ankle that suffered Casemiro in the victory against Celta on November 11, and that has forced him to miss seven games since then, has been the best excuse for the Argentine to give Llorente reel. So far this season he has nine appearances in the 14 meetings of Solari as the head coach, 725 minutes of the 1,260 total (57.5%), and his participation in the two games of the Club World Cup, the first title in the competition for the technician, they warn of a main status.
"I dedicate it to my family because they are the ones who help me on a daily basis and those who support me when I am unbearable," he said in Abu Dhabi. Surely in 2019, if the streak continues, you will have no reason to apologize.