News From Spain: Analysis: How would Denzel Dumfries fit as Real Madrid’s right-back?

Real Madrid appear to have seen enough from Dani Carvajal. After a decade as their first-choice right-back, Carvajal’s injuries and inconsistency have caught up with him, and Los Blancos are now actively looking for a replacement.

One of the names mentioned was Bayern Munich’s Benjamin Pavard, who appears set to leave this summer, with Barcelona also in close pursuit. However Fichajes also believe that Real Madrid are evaluating Inter’s Denzel Dumfries as a potential option too.

Inter are looking to make a major sale at some point in the next six months, and Dumfries is seen as an assumable loss at a good price. They would be looking for upwards of €50m, but would he suit Real Madrid’s needs?

Dumfries was on their radar back while he was at PSV Eindhoven, before he moved to Inter, so it can be assumed that they at least have a good appreciation of his talents.

The 26-year-old earned his first international cap in 2018 and has reached 42 of them with the Netherlands, but only made the jump from the Eredivisie to Serie A in 2021. He cost Inter just €14.25m, but quickly became a regular part of Simone Inzaghi’s side. Last season he had 10 direct goal contributions in 33 Serie A appearances.

Therein lies his strength. Dumfries is a strong attacking threat, constantly getting forward and causing issues for the opposition. That much was seen during the World Cup, when he created two of the Netherlands’ goals in the Round of 16 against the USA.

This season he has 4 goals and 3 assists in 23 appearances. Compared to his positional peers, Dumfries ranks in the top 10% for shots, goals, progressive passes received and touches in the attacking penalty area. There is no doubt that along with consistency and fitness, Real Madrid are looking for more offensive output from their full-backs.

His position is key though. Dumfries has always operated as part of a back three/five system, which lends him the entire flank to operate himself. Dumfries is not quite as impressive without the ball, although still with good one-on-one abilities. It shows in his numbers that he is more given to attacking though, even if that is a function of his position; Dumfries ranks in the bottom quartile for tackles, dribblers tackled, interceptions and clearances.

For Inter and the Netherlands, he is given the freedom to get forward as a he pleases almost, requiring the rest of the defence to shuffle over or a central midfielder to do so.

At the time of writing, it seems unlikely that Real Madrid would switch to a back three/five, although the ingredients are there. In theory, it means placing Dumfries into a back four, where no doubt his defensive numbers would improve.

As always, it depends on the balance and having Ferland Mendy on the other side may well allow a nice equilibrium with Dumfries. Real Madrid are often more concerned with attacking down the flanks than defending them, so in that sense, it would suit them to have a more offensive option, certainly than Carvajal. The Dutchman would provide natural width, pace and a powerful runner, all things that would complement the current side well.

Equally, it would mean playing Dumfries out of position. Moving him out of position to suit them might work, but it is certainly a risk. Taking a player away from what they are comfortable with can sway their internal compass and have negative effects on the pitch. Any potential move should consider how adaptable Real Madrid believe he is.

Given he would likely cost in excess of €50m, it makes far more sense for Real Madrid to seek out a specialist in the position at that price. That does not mean to say he couldn’t be a success either.