Miguel Gutierrez; remember the name.
The 20-year-old left-back impressed throughout his rise through the Real Madrid youth setup and, after making his mark when handed the opportunity of featuring for the senior side, he has earned the right to be counted as a Los Blancos player.
And 2021/22 could be his year to break through and announce himself globally.
Gutierrez has always been trusted by those in Madrid, and was allowed to strut his stuff for the club in the latter stages of the 2020/21 La Liga season. The youngster, aided by injuries to Ferland Mendy and Marcelo, played six of Real’s final seven fixtures, earning a full professional debut in a 4-1 thrashing of Granada – a game in which he produced a moment of pure brilliance.
Proving his worth as a modern-day full-back, Gutierrez unlocked a rigid Granada back line with a sensational, eye-of-the-needle, chipped through-ball for Luka Modric to break the deadlock.
It was a glimpse of what those who have known him for a while have seen throughout his young career. Gutierrez fits the Los Blancos mould; he’s deadly creative, technically gifted and loves attacking.
As well as demonstrating visionary passing on the big stage, Gutierrez has registered impressive numbers previously. For example, during the 2019/20 UEFA Youth League the full-back struck four times in ten appearances – even notching the decisive goal in the final as Real Madrid lifted the youth equivalent of the Champions League.
He’s a front-footed, artistic full-back who brings a massive impact in forward areas – something Real Madrid fans love to see. However, that’s not all he is.
The 20-year-old never sacrifices those behind him in search of those glorious little moments. His reading of the game and defensive ability, complementing his natural gift for attacking play, make him a potential star of his position.
While he was only given 314 minutes of league action by Zinedine Zidane last season, the young defender made them count. According to FBRef, Gutierrez managed 1.71 interceptions per 90, ranking fourth among Real players and more than any other defender, while making two blocks per 90 – fifth most at the club.
On both counts, neither Mendy nor Marcelo ranked above Gutierrez – although, of course, we have to bear in mind that they played many more minutes. Even so, it is clear to see that Gutierrez, as described by Zizou, is ‘phenomenal’ and a star in the making.
While Carlo Ancelotti’s appointment as manager will mean a new face in charge this term, it doesn’t take an expert to conclude that Marcelo is well past his prime and that Gutierrez should be considered suitable back-up for Mendy at left-back – especially given the quiet nature of Los Blancos’ summer transfer window thus far.
The young Spaniard may not find stardom just yet, but 2021/22 could be his time to break through and cement his status as a Real Madrid player.