Marco Asensio surprised coaches at Real Madrid training by besting his teammates in a pre-season fitness drill.
The 23-year-old faced plenty of criticism from fans for his disappointing performances last season, but he has clearly remained fit and focused over summer to help him bounce back from the poor campaign.
After the squad’s first week of pre-season training, fitness coach Gregory Dupont ordered his squad to complete the ‘Cooper test’, which challenges players to run as far as possible in 12 minutes.
According to Marca, the clear winner was Asensio, who looked to be well ahead of the rest of his teammates.
Before the squad left for their summer holidays, manager Zinedine Zidane is said to have individually spoken to Asensio to try and encourage him to come back ready to perform, insisting that he felt as though the winger has all the talent to become one of the world’s best players.
Asensio was clearly listening and has spent this summer focusing on his fitness to make the best possible impression on Zidane upon his return.
Coaches are said to be certain that the Spaniard is in the perfect frame of mind, and the hope is that he can push on and make a real impact for Los Blancos in the upcoming season.
Last season, Asensio made 30 appearances in La Liga, but managed just one goal and six assists. That solitary goal and three of his assists all came within the first five weeks of the campaign, with Asensio quickly losing his place in the team after a poor run of results.
He is yet to fully live up to the potential which many saw in him following his debut back in 2016, and last season was certainly his most disappointing with the senior side.
With Los Blancos recruiting both Eden Hazard and Rodrygo Goes this summer, there is plenty of competition for places on the wings. However, Asensio will be hoping that his positive start will give him an early edge over the rest of his teammates.