We don’t get to see arch-rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid come to a truce over any issue whatsoever all the time. But shockingly, both signed a treaty; shook hands and then made peace momentarily for the sake of one man – Theo Hernandez.
Certainly, there’s no love lost between Spain’s capital city clubs. Extremely obstinate animosity, loathe and tantrum arouses each time both sides square off. But this fierce rivalry goes a bit beyond football. It transcends to their social, political and religious lives; making it almost impossible for players to move either way. For this reason, both sides made an unwritten ‘non-aggression pact’, automatically ruling out any player crossing the divide.
And indeed that agreement did bind for so many years. Santiago Solari was the last to cross-carpet and that was as far back as 2000. Perhaps the move wouldn’t have materialised had Colchoneros not suffered relegation. Since then potential deals for Sergio Aguero, Diego Forlan, Radamel Falcao and Jose Maria Gimenez were brushed aside, leaving the local rivals with clear knowledge not to test their luck.
On so many occasions the pact came to the fore. Jose Mourinho with all his predatory instinct, while at Real, couldn’t poach their neighbours. His reason: “there is a kind of non-aggression pact between Atletico and Madrid, therefore I think this is a kind of forbidden subject”. And for Antoine Griezmann to have admitted he’d never switch to Santiago Bernabeu in 2016 cos “both clubs do have a pact” further validates its existence.
However, Florentino Perez chose to throw this gentleman’s agreement out the window and instead, selfishly stuck a knife into their rival, not for Griezmann, Koke or any other superstar on Diego Simeone’s roaster. Rather for teen French defender, Theo Hernandez, who had never featured for the first team. More surprising was the fact that Los Blancos didn’t just meet his €24 million release clause but added some extra millions for all their migraine.
So who is Theo Hernandez?
Theo Hernandez, simply known as “Theo” is a talented left-back, born about 19 years ago in Marseille at a time his dad, Jean-Francois, was playing for the Ligue 1 outfit. His father’s move to Atletico Madrid in 2000 was ultimately the catalyst Theo needed to kickstart his own career at the club seven years later. He rapidly progressed through the ranks and eventually broke into the first team in the 2015/16 season. However, the intimidating presence of Filipe Luis meant the youngster had to hastily flee to Alaves on loan.
What makes him so special?
Perhaps Theo will still be languishing in Atleti’s B team, cutting his teeth in the Tercera, had Mauricio Pellegrino never asked after him. At Alaves, he established himself as not only the most promising left-back in Spain; but by extension the whole of Europe. And his stats prove just that. Theo leads his pairs from Europe’s top five leagues in terms of minutes played, tackles won, chances created by a defender and successful take-ons.
That just about confirms the hype trailing the 19-year-old. Considered the complete package, Theo offers equal quality in attack and defence. His lightning pace, incredible runs and technical abilities make him a handful for teams. Yet, no one is expecting the young Frenchman to immediately unseat or retire Marcelo, who is in the form of his life at the moment. But as the Brazilian was signed as a teenager and took some time to adapt before making himself an undisputed starter at the Santiago Bernabeu, Theo now has the opportunity to learn and develop similarly at the club.