Reuben Pardo 21 Midfielder Real Sociedad Spain
2013 has been…
Ruben Pardo is the new “new Xabi Alonso”. Former teammate Asier Illarramendi is the new Xabi Alonso. After an incredible season with Real Sociedad and the Spain under-21 team that won the UEFA European under-21 Championships, Illarramendi found himself on the shopping list of Los Blancos. The manner of his performances as he anchored the team all the way to victory proved enough to force Madrid’s hand.
They shelled out an eye watering €35 million for Asier as they looked to replace the now 32 year-old Alonso in their team. However, should the 23 year-old struggle to live up to the high billing, then we imagine Pardo will be ready to fill in. Ruden is the next player on Madrid’s shopping list as they try to sort out the problematic midfield axis in their side.
Weirdly, Alonso could go in the opposite direction to the two youngsters at the end of the season. The former Liverpool man’s contract is up in 2014 and with so many young pretenders being drafted in, he may fancy a swansong with the club that he started his career with.
Having played in the Spanish top flight at various points over the last two years, this is the first season that Pardo has been allowed an extended run in the team. However, the early experiences have helped Ruben settle in quickly to life in the Sociedad midfield. He is more of a regular and is now starting to turn heads across the league with his performances; even if he has been held back from getting a chance at the biggest teams so far.
Last season was something of a frustration for the player and the fans. Pardo’s reputation as an exciting midfield prospect preceded him a little around the Anoeta. It was a cause of concern that Philippe Montainer didn’t use him more in the team, even if he was busy guiding the club to a remarkable fourth place finish in the Liga BBVA. In 2012/13, he featured in 25 league matches but they only amounted to 1,100 minutes of action. He played the full 90 minutes on just four occasions.
As close to a like-for-like replacement for the much-coveted Alonso as Real Madrid are likely to find in Spain; especially a young age, Pardo has a ferocious shot in his repertoire. He enjoys spreading the ball, keeping his side moving and looking for areas that he can shift the play towards. He has all the natural attributes required to be a deep lying playmaker; even if he remains rather rough around the edges.
His work when without possession needs fine tuning and he could do with a lesson in improving his tackling. For his sake, we’d like to see him spend some time in the same squad as the “old Xabi Alonso” rather than the two passing each other at the door. Alonso could enhance Pardo no end with a few months together in training and help guide him towards an apparently obvious place in Spain’s midfield.
With his range of passing, ability to carry the ball forward and disciplined attitude, Ruben Pardo looks ready to fill Alonso’s shoes as the man that pulls the strings of the Madrid midfield; even if he has played a surprisingly low number of matches in the top flight. With Alonso and Khedira both hampered by injuries this season, Carlo Ancelotti has struggled to get the right balance in his midfield pairing that complement the four attacking players ahead of them. Should Real Madrid really want Ruben Pardo to be one of their two central midfielders, then Ruben Pardo will become a Real Madrid player in the near future.
He is very exciting and has shown that in the rare occasions that he has a chance to play in the Champions League this season. New Sociedad manager Jagoba Arrasate has shown a willingness to play Pardo more and more; but at the same time, he’s managed his game time and the expectation around him. Especially as Sociedad’s upturn in form has coincided nicely with Pardo’s extended run in the team.
The departure for Asier Illarramendi for a small fortune and the influx of Champions League money means any team wanting Pardo will need to break the bank to get him.
"Nearly caused la Real's fans to riot each week when Phillipe Montanier left him out of the team, this is another fine product of Zubieta we're talking about. Gradually being eased in under Jagoba Arrasate, this precise, elegant midfielder with great vision is ready to be a regular." - David Cartlidge, Spanish football expert
"Since the start of last season, Sociedad have won 53% of their games when Ruben Pardo has started and just 42% when he has been missing." - Opta
C Ticking along rather nicely