Nacho Fernandez: Could Real Madrid’s latest one-club man be on his way out?

Nacho Fernandez has been omnipresent for Real Madrid since his debut in 2011. He has made 298 appearances and won 21 trophies but now the man who joined their youth system at the age of 10 is weighing his future in the Spanish capital.

In 2013, the defender was already a regular in the first-team squad under Jose Mourinho, but it wasn’t uncommon to see him sitting in the stands at Real Madrid Castilla’s Alfredo Di Stefano stadium, cheering and crying for his younger brother Alex Fernandez he lost. The Fernandez brothers were key to the B team’s promotion to the second division in 2012, with a squad full of promising players like Dani Carvajal, Lucas Vazquez and Alvaro Morata.

Nacho captained that side – he’s worn the armband for Madrid at all levels since he first joined as a youngster. After 22 years as a Real Madrid player, Nacho is now vice-captain to Carlo Ancelotti, behind Karim Benzema. But whether Nacho will stay at the Bernabeu is in doubt.

The defender’s contract expires in June but he has received an offer for a one-year extension. According to sources familiar with negotiations, who chose to remain anonymous to protect their position, the ball is now in Nacho’s court.

Nacho has captained Real Madrid at all levels since he joined the academy at the age of 10 (Photo: Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images).

“I’m happy here, I’m playing, I want to focus on that,” said the 33-year-old after Madrid’s 4-0 win over Elche on Wednesday night. “I will decide very personally and always respect my club. I want to focus on everyday life. What has to be will be.”

Nacho’s decision has nothing to do with money – it’s never been a primary concern for him and that’s why his salary is relatively modest compared to the highest-paid members of the squad. But he wants to play and feel like an important part of the team.

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Precisely because of this attitude, many at Real Madrid feel that Nacho hasn’t gotten everything he deserves in his 12 seasons as part of the first team.

Ancelotti made it clear in his last appearance in front of the media.

Behind the scenes at Real Madrid…

“He has more competition as a central defender (after signing Antonio Rudiger from Chelsea last summer) but he made his games and delivered,” said the Madrid boss. “It’s not the place where you like to play, but you have to do your bit and Nacho always did, last year and this year. The situation is very clear: he has to decide what to do.”

The club would love to see him finish his career at the Bernabeu but also understand he has earned the right to decide. “Nacho has to do what’s best for him,” said a source close to Madrid’s leadership, who chose to remain anonymous to protect her position.

It has been a long time since Nacho first emerged as a highly reliable defender, leading to a phrase popularized by the Spanish press: “Nacho always delivers”. But that displeased his fellow human beings, who saw him as more than just a service provider.

Nacho has played in every defensive position since making his Real Madrid debut from Jose Mourinho in 2011 (Photo: Victor Carretero/Real Madrid via Getty Images).

But as coaches have come and gone at Madrid over the years – Mourinho, Rafa Benitez, Zinedine Zidane, Julen Lopetegui, Santi Solari and Ancelotti – Nacho has played in every defensive position. His versatility is one of his greatest assets and at Madrid’s academy, where he started as a midfielder, he has become the prime example of a ‘total player’ for those who come down the ranks – someone who can adapt to the circumstances of everyone Matches and competes at the highest level.

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That applies off the field as well as on it. In 2016, Nacho revealed that he had had type 1 diabetes since he was 12 years old. The news came as a huge shock to Madrid fans but the defender has learned to live naturally with the disease – further testament to the club of Nacho’s personality and his status as a valued member of the squad.

That’s why Nacho hasn’t lost his place at Madrid even after several summers in which the club has bolstered its squad with some of the best players in the world. It’s also why he wasn’t told he would be a third- or fourth-choice centre-back, even when Rudiger came on a free transfer last year.

Most appearances at Real Madrid


year of debut

Performances in Madrid

Madrid trophies

Karim Benzema




Luke Modric




Tony Kroos




Daniel Carvajal




Nacho Fernandez




Real Madrid’s one-club men





Jose Maria Zarraga




Jose Antonio Camacho








Manolo Sanchis




Nacho Fernandez




Ancelotti likes Nacho and has more than once called him a “pessimistic” defender because he’s never cocky. He has played 1,313 minutes in 22 games this season and could still beat last season’s numbers (2,541 minutes in 42 games). Ancelotti appears to be leaning on him more than he did in his first tenure as coach – newly promoted from Real Madrid Castilla, Nacho recorded 1,368 minutes in 19 games in the 2013/14 season and 1,016 minutes in 12 games in the 2014/15 season.

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Since then, Nacho has won five Champions League titles and three LaLiga titles and had four children – two of them just before a final, one before the 2016 Champions League final and another before Saturday’s Club World Cup win over Al Hilal. He seems to have a special connection to finals and would retire as one of Madrid’s standout one-club players if he accepted Madrid’s contract offer. That’s a list that includes legendary former players Jose Maria Zarraga, Jose Antonio Camacho, Miguel Porlan – better known as Chendo – and Manolo Sanchis.

Nacho took his 21st silverware with Madrid when he won the Club World Cup on Saturday – but he didn’t make it to the final (Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images).

Meanwhile, several clubs are monitoring Nacho’s situation, including Major League Soccer, as reported the athlete Last month. But no one has made an offer yet and they are awaiting Nacho’s decision on his renewal, according to sources close to the player, who wish to remain anonymous to protect their position. It’s the same situation as in previous seasons, with Madrid pursuing a policy of only renewing over-30s annually.

However, despite Nacho’s consistent performances, Ancelotti preferred to start Carvajal and David Alaba in the Club World Cup final – the former suffering from a high fever the day before and the latter suffering from gastroenteritis and dying of a injury recovered. Little encouragement for Nacho, who came on as a substitute in the last half hour of the 5-3 win against Al Hilal.

For all of these reasons, the next few games will provide a benchmark for Nacho. The defender will see how important he is to the team, especially if Madrid lose other defensive options through injury or if Rudiger’s performances are not up to par.

Nevertheless, the relationship between Madrid and Nacho remains exemplary, so leaving in a crowded relationship is unthinkable. The player is a madridista and knows this is his home. If he decides to move to another club, Madrid would turn back to the youth system – although they are unlikely to find another Nacho.

(Top Photo: Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

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