Real Madrid maestro Lucas Vazquez delivered Everton a statement by producing a complete performance against Atalanta BC in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
Los Blancos won 1-0 on their travels to their Serie A outfit thanks to an 86th-minute winner from full-back Ferland Mendy, ensuring Zinedine Zidane’s side took a first-leg lead back to the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real appeared set to leave Italy on the back of a frustrating visit against a well-organised Gian Piero Gasperini line-up, until Mendy curled his effort home to bag an away goal and snatch the strike that Remo Freuler had denied him in the first half.
Zidane was without a number of his top talents at the Gewiss Stadium with Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard and Dani Carvajal all absent from the matchday squad.
Vazquez took over Carvajal’s duties at right-back and delivered a top-draw performance at both ends of the pitch, to warrant Everton’s recent speculated interest.
It is thought that the Goodison Park natives are monitoring the £113,000-per-week forward’s situation in the Spanish capital with his contract due to expire in the summer, and no further talks being scheduled between Vazquez and the Madrid hierarchy.
The 29-year-old snubbed the offer previously tabled to remain with the Galacticos, feeling that the terms did not represent a player as important to Zidane having started 15 of his 18 La Liga outings and six of Real’s seven Champions League ties thus far this term.
Vazquez now wants to see his future resolved in March, per Cuatro, as he does not want to wait until June to know where he will be playing next season, so will soon sit down and review all proposals received to assess which is the most interesting option.
Vazquez’s performance at the Gewiss Stadium will have certainly raised a few eyebrows from those monitoring developments back at Goodison Park, as the £13.5m-rated maestro dominated on the right-flank to help dictate proceedings in Real Madrid’s favour.
Atalanta’s defence often withstood the danger posed from Real’s attacks, and did well to head clear Vazquez’s teasing cross in the closing stages minutes before Mendy produced his moment of magic to curl home from close to 25-yards out.
That chance denied Vazquez his sixth assist of the season across all competitions, with just one of his three crosses able to reach a Madrid player having been given a licence to push forward from full-back, per SofaScore.
Eighty-one of his 90 ground passes found a Los Blancos player, leading to one key ball, as Vazquez helped pull the stings thanks to a mammoth 122 touches – only Toni Kroos (155) took more touches for either side.
Vazquez further won six of his eight ground duels, and battled hard to win possession back during Atalanta’s mere 31% share of the possession with three successful tackles, two interceptions and two clearances.
Vazquez efforts against Atalanta would be enough to rank third for tackles, first for interceptions, seventh for clearances and second for ground duels won at Everton, based on performances produced per game in the Premier League this season.
He would further offer the joint-third most key passes and second-most accurate crosses, with only Lucas Digne (1.63) producing a higher number of successful deliveries among those called on more than once by Carlo Ancelotti to date.
If Vazquez is still unhappy with the offer tabled by Real and open to leaving Madrid amid Everton’s interest, his Champions League masterclass will have come at the perfect time.
AND in other news, Everton face European competition to sign a £35m target this summer…