Recent weeks at Real Madrid have not been packed with reasons for optimism, but one has been the breakthrough of Fede Valverde in midfield.
Trusted by Zinedine Zidane, the Uruguayan has spoken of his role in the squad after having produced one of his best performances to date against Villarreal at the weekend.
“I have many options to be able to stay at Real Madrid next season,” he told ‘100% Deporte’ of Sport 89 radio station in Uruguay.
“Zidane tells me to enjoy and not to see it as a trial, to show the potential I have and that he likes the kind of player I am.
“He tells me that he enjoys seeing me play.
“Coming from someone who has won so much as a coach, it’s good to have his trust.”
Despite his new role, it has not been an ideal season in his first campaign as a first-team player at the club.
“It wasn’t the year we were hoping for, we’ve lost more than we’ve won and we’ve only won the Club World Cup,” he said.
“People are more worried about who will come next year.
“I always try to encourage the players who are chosen to play and be positive, and when it’s my turn I give my all.”
He has received praise from the press for his recent form, having been trusted by the French coach since his appointment.
“It’s nice because you know that you’re doing things well, although you can’t get ahead of yourself,” he admitted.
“I can’t rest on my laurels, you always have to look for more.
“If more players come then I’ll have more challenges to have more minutes with players who are stars, who I always try to enjoy being alongside.”
Stars are not in short supply in the dressing room at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, but the Uruguayan does not feel overwhelmed.
“They are players who have won it all, but as time goes by you gain trust with them and they open the door to the dressing room to you and you laugh with them,” he explained.
“Casemiro sits next to me and he’s one of the players who has helped me most.”
Despite Barcelona’s humiliation at Anfield on Tuesday, the hot topic in the day’s news, Valverde would not be drawn to criticise his rivals.
“I’m not the best person to speak to about this,” he said.
“We got a good result in the Copa del Rey against Barcelona and against Ajax in the Champions League and lost both.
“When the opposition come back from behind it’s a very difficult moment.”
With the season almost over for the midfielder, there is a new challenge on the horizon as the Copa America approaches, with Valverde expected to be called up by Uruguay.
“This year I have played more than last year and I haven’t been injured,” he said.
“I feel good to be able to go and in training I will try to show that I’m ready to be able to go.
“Wearing the shirt of the national team is the peak for a player.
“When I was left out of the World Cup it hurt me a lot, but I’m always positive.
“There are always more opportunities and you have to take them and be ready for anything, the good and the bad.”
After that tournament, Valverde may well have some new teammates to compete alongside as he looks to nail down his place in the Real Madrid squad.