Bayern flop Alvaro Odriozola finds his happiness: finally a protagonist


Alvaro Odriozola was once considered an unstoppable upstart: moving to Real Madrid, debuting for Spain, but then suddenly he was no longer wanted and was also ignored at Bayern. The Spaniard has finally arrived at Fiorentina, but now has less time for his horses.

The message was well placed to the point. “I am a very normal person,” said Alvaro Odriozola when presented to Bayern Munich on January 20, 2020. He first arrived in a private jet in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich, after which he was driven to the medical examination in a bright red luxury car. When introduced the next day in the media room on Säbener Straße, the then 24-year-old full-back donned a gray suit with a white shirt and wine-red tie.

It was something like a €100m transfer, but really Bayern only got a backup for the right side of the defence. And Odriozola even had to fight for this spare role. 179 minutes spread over five missions stood out. The flight and the journey to the medical examination from Munich by private jet took longer. After all, he was allowed to call himself a three-time winner and with the trophies in the photo. Also looks good on a resume.

Odrizola has learned a lot from Joshua Kimmich

If you’re listening to Odriozola today, it’s not just photos left over from the Munich time. Although he lived a bouna Sarr life with the German record champions as a newcomer to Real Madrid, he learned a lot for the time after. “I’ve learned a lot in defense. It’s the new Odriozola,” he said, for example. Also in terms of mentality, there were valuable new experiences: “I learned especially from Joshua Kimmich, with whom I have a very good relationship – especially from his mentality. He is someone who loves football and lives with an indescribable passion.”

The training and retraining to become a mentality monster certainly helped, but Odrioziola couldn’t rate the Bayern era as a success: “I would have liked to have felt more like a protagonist.” Even when he returned to Real Madrid, he still played the extra role: 829 minutes of playing time in the competition, although regular right-back Dani Carvajal was injured for a long time.

Zinedine Zidane bet on actual right winger Lucas Vasquez. The maximum penalty for Odriozola followed in the spring of 2021: When Vasquez was also injured, Zidane bet on Federico Valverde in the quarter-finals of the Champions League against Liverpool (0-0). The Uruguayan midfielder quickly found a new destination in one of the most important games of the season. Odrizola remained the banking place.

Ancelotti kept the gate open for him at Real Madrid

The battle for the position is nothing new for Basque. Since Odriozola didn’t make his top division debut until he was 21, he knows what it’s like to wait patiently for an opportunity. When Real Madrid switched coaches over the summer and Carlo Ancelotti took over, there was an opportunity to show himself again. But it was precisely at this stage that he tested positive for Corona and was out for two weeks. “In the most important phase”, as he puts it himself.

On his return, Odriozola tried to talk to the trainer. “I said I would like to use my qualities. Ancelotti, who I appreciate very much, told me he would have no problem if I stayed. But also no problem if I wanted to leave.” An answer that can be received positively – or not. Odrizola knew: “It was clear that I would not play 30 games here.”

And Odriozola for the first time wanted to become the protagonist of his own destiny and not put his happiness in the hands of others. “Nobody pushed me in my decision,” he says. Odriozola forced a transfer and then agreed with AC Florence: “I believed I would come here to my games and grow as a footballer.” The determination has paid off. The Spaniard has been placed with the traditional club, although he is not offside there either.

Less time for his horses

But coach Vincenzo Italiano appreciates Odriozola, who has actually learned something new in the field of defensive work and has long since ceased to show the shortcomings that were confirmed to him at Bayern, for example. For the first time since his time in San Sebastian, the now 26-year-old is a protagonist. But he doesn’t want to be satisfied with that. “I hope to succeed here and then return to Real Madrid.”

The contract with the royal family runs until 2024. The competitive situation in Madrid has not changed much since then. Carvajal is still number one, but he is also still prone to injuries. Again, there are players from outside the position who are helping, especially Vasquez, who is now quite comfortable on the right side in the back four. But Odriozola will at least give it a try in the summer, especially since Fiorentina has not negotiated a buy option.

The only problem with the positive trend in football career. For his great passion: horses there is less time. Odriozola has horses that run races. If the opportunity arises, it’s there. “That’s an obsession,” he says. At Real Madrid, he even found like-minded people in Sergio Ramos and Gareth Bale: “Gareth is considering buying a horse.” He hasn’t been able to celebrate big successes on the track yet, as you can hear, but Odrizola knows that sometimes it takes a while.

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