Real Madrid attacker Marco Asensio was left visibly angered after Carlo Ancelotti overlooked him for minutes in Sunday’s La Liga win over former club Mallorca.
The Spain international was tipped to head elsewhere in the summer transfer window, with Manchester United, Arsenal and AC Milan all credited with an interest.
However, the market closed with Asensio still on the books at the Bernabeu, but he finds himself third in the right-wing pecking order under Ancelotti.
Federico Valverde – a central midfielder in his early days – is often preferred on the right-hand side, while Rodrygo has forced himself above Asensio in Ancelotti’s thinking.
As a result, the 26-year-old has been forced to accept another bit-part role this season, and he could not hide his frustrations when Mallorca paid a visit to the Bernabeu on Sunday.
Ancelotti opted for a front line of Rodrygo, Eden Hazard and Vinicius Junior, as Los Blancos won 4-1 thanks to goals from the two Brazilian attackers, Valverde and Antonio Rudiger.
Asensio was seemingly in line to earn some minutes as a substitute after being instructed to warm-up, and he was all kitted out before Ancelotti decided against bringing him on.
Instead, Dani Carvajal, Luka Modric, Eduardo Camavinga and Nacho Fernandez were brought off the bench, which led to an angry Asensio taking his frustration out on the sidelines.
The Spaniard tossed his bib aside before kicking a cool box and throwing a water bottle onto the ground, as he ended a third La Liga game in a row as an unused substitute.
Ancelotti was questioned on Asensio’s tantrum following that 4-1 success, but the Blancos boss sympathised with the attacker, saying: “Asensio’s anger for not playing? I agree with him, so I’ll keep it in mind.”
Asensio has played a mere seven minutes of La Liga action in the 2022-23 season so far, while he was brought off the bench for the final 10 minutes of last week’s Champions League win over Celtic.
The Spain international has racked up 49 goals and 24 assists in 237 appearances for Real Madrid in all competitions, including 10 strikes in La Liga last term.
However, Real Madrid are seemingly set to lose Asensio on a free transfer at the end of the season, with Blancos chiefs supposedly giving no consideration to extending his contract beyond 2023.
The ex-Mallorca youngster will be free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with foreign clubs from January as he closes in on his exit from Real, who remain top of the La Liga table after Sunday’s win.