Real Madrid's hero against Napoli was an unlikely one. With Los Blancos tied, 2-2, with the Italian side, and five minutes remaining, you wouldn't have guessed who would be the one to bag the winner. With Jude Bellingham, Rodrygo and Federico Valverde on the pitch, Nico Paz didn't seem like the match-winning presence.
But Paz provided the big moment all the same, expertly pivoting away from a defender before unleashing a 25-yard strike that found the bottom corner — via a ricochet from the gloves of Alex Meret.
After the game, Carlo Ancelotti didn't seem surprised: "He is a player for the future of Real Madrid. He has all the quality that a Real Madrid player needs to have."
Still, this is a player with rare talent, and excellent footballing pedigree. Paz's father played for an elite national team, while his Madrid academy education has ensured that he has been put in all of the right places to be a star for years to come. Add that he is a midfielder, hoping to break into a side that has some of the best in the world, and Paz has a real chance to get his minutes — while also being allowed to grow at his own pace.
But who is Nico Paz, why do Madrid rate him so highly, and can he really be the future of this storied club?