Odriozola at Real Madrid – a new Carvajal or another Theo?

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The Real Sociedad right-back has moved to the capital club in a €40 million deal, but will face a fight to be first choice at the Santiago Bernabeu

Amid rumours of possible moves for Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, plus transfer talk surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo and a potential sale to Juventus, Real Madrid made their first summer signing on Thursday.

Real Sociedad right-back Alvaro Odriozola has joined Los Blancos in a €40 million deal and he links up with former Spain coach Julen Lopetegui, who was sacked by La Roja just before the World Cup after his move to Madrid was announced .

Lopetegui knows his fellow Basque well and handed the defender his debut with Spain, so it is no surprise that the 22-year-old is his first signing as Real Madrid coach.

"I won't get involved with whether that was a correct decision or not, but we lost our coach," Odriozola said this week of Lopetegui's Spain sacking. "Like it or not, it affected us. And Julen was also a person who transmitted a lot to the team."

A few days earlier, ahead of Spain's defeat to Russia in the last 16 of the World Cup, Odriozola sat down with  Goal  correspondent Alberto Piñero and, asked about a possible reunion with his former national coach, he said: “In football, you never know if one day I will meet Julen or not."

As it turned out, he did not have to wait very long at all for that to happen and on Thursday he posted an emotional message about his time at his hometown club, having grown up and spent his whole life in San Sebastian.

"I joined Real Sociedad as a boy of 10," he wrote. "I say goodbye 12 years later, having fulfilled one of my biggest dreams: having played for the first team. Wearing those colours has made me feel the proudest person in the world."

His sale, for €40m, will fund the club's youth academy for a decade and for Real Sociedad, the move makes economic sense. "I love San Sebastian, I love la Real and wherever I go, I promise to transmit the greatness of this club," he went on.

And he added: "I could only leave this club and my city to take up the biggest of challenges: to play for Real Madrid."

Odriozola Spain Switzerland goal

As with Spain, however, he will have to compete with current first choice Dani Carvajal for the right-back slot at the Santiago Bernabeu. And given the 26-year-old's fine form over the past few seasons, that will be anything but easy.

Although he is prone to injuries, Carvajal has averaged 40 games per season since returning to Real in 2013 following a year at Bayer Leverkusen and he is considered one of the best in the world in his position.

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For his part, Odriozola is extremely talented, with plenty of pace and technique to go with his defensive qualities, yet he will hope he can have an impact similar to Carvajal rather than Madrid's most recent full-back signing, Theo Hernandez.

Theo was wanted by most of Europe's top clubs a year ago, but joined Madrid from Atletico after a successful spell at Alaves on loan and has not looked half the player he was the previous season. In fact, he made only 23 appearances last term, many as substitute, and just 13 in La Liga.

The presence of Lopetegui means Odriozola should fare better, but the 22-year-old will have to fight for protagonism and playing time at Real. If he succeeds, he will become one of the best right-backs around. And if not, he may find himself back in San Sebastian sooner than he would have hoped.

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