Zidane 'delighted' as young Real Madrid midfielder Valverde stakes his claim for a starting spot

The 21-year-old has made the most of recent starts as he looks to cement his spot in his manager's first 11

Zinedine Zidane hailed Federico Valverde's form for Real Madrid after a 4-2 win over Granada on Saturday.

Valverde, 21, made his third straight La Liga start for Madrid, setting up a goal for Eden Hazard as Zidane's men moved four points clear at the top.

The Uruguay international's display was lauded by Zidane, who praised the midfielder's energy.

"I'm happy for him. He deserves it, he's a player that'll always prove just how good he is," the Madrid coach told a news conference.

"He's improving, he's doing exceptionally well and he's always moving forward, he wants to get on the ball and he had a hand in the goals.

"This is a team game and that first-half performance was brilliant in every sense. We did really well in terms of getting out of our half with the ball.

"That's the kind of player he [Valverde] is. He's a bit of a modern player, he's got a fantastic engine on him, it's not only in attack because he puts in just as much work in defence too and that's important in the modern game and he's doing well, just as many of them are.

"I'm delighted for Fede because he's getting game time and he deserves it."

Valverde gained possession a game-high nine times for Madrid against Granada, while he made three tackles and provided an assist.

The midfielder began his career with Penarol before moving to Real in 2016 where he initially linked up with their B-team. 

After impressing Julen Lopetegui during pre-season last year, Valverde was promoted to the first-team and made 16 La Liga appearances for the club last season. 

On Saturday, the young Uruguayan assisted Hazard's first goal for the club with the Belgian grateful to finally find the back of the net. 

“It’s always difficult to get that first goal, but once you get it you have greater confidence to shoot and I hope to score lots of goals for this great club," Hazard said.

“It was important for me to score today."

Zidane's side are currently four points clear at the top of La Liga and have yet to lose in the league this season.