Real Madrid’s gamble with the youth

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Mata was a part of the Madrid Youth Squad

Real Madrid are one of the most glamorous names in football.  The aura and fame that surrounds the Los Blancos is noteworthy, and why not? When you have the biggest names of world football plying their trades simultaneously, glamour is just a by-product! For years now, the hierarchy of the club have stuck to their policy of bringing the star quotient into the club by spending exorbitant amounts of money in an attempt to become a powerhouse in football, and the strategy has brought its fair yield, be it in terms of on field success or in terms of promoting Real Madrid as one of the biggest brands in the world. The Galacticos have never stayed away from the spotlight for long – be it for their success or failure.

Beneath the stardom of these famed Galacticos, suffered the cantera of the club – The club’s policy of buying proven talent to fill the roster left little room for the promotion of the cantera outputs to the first team, leading to a mass exodus of raw talent, who ultimately thrived elsewhere – the more famous names being Roberto Soldado, Juan Mata and Dani Parejo. The little confidence that the administration placed on the youth was evident when Michael Essien was brought on a season long loan, plugging holes in the full back department, instead of trusting Nacho Fernandez – the Castilla graduate.

The move brought about a lot of bad-mouthing within the club and even the media, with Mourinho being accused of undermining the cantera which has churned out a host of stars in the past. In a response to the accusation, the Special One listed a host of names that were given a chance, before shifting the blame upon Castilla Coach Alberto Toril for not being able to aid the progression of his players. In a dead rubber against Osasuna at home, Mourinho took a stance and fielded five players who had come through the ranks. Besides, the ex-tactician seemed to have taken a liking to Alvaro Morata – the lanky center forward was given a handful of chances to showcase his talent, and he did not disappoint either. With the scores tied at 1-1 at Levante, Morata came on with 6 minutes remaining and ensured that Real left with all 3 points by scoring the winner, a testimony to the faith of his manager in his talent.

The small steps taken towards sustainable development last season have turned into giant leaps this summer, with the appointment of Carlo Ancelotti and the inclusion of Zinedine Zidane in the Italian’s coaching staff. The transfer policy of the club this summer has certainly come as a breath of fresh air to both its suitors and the media. Splashing out on young blood, faith in the youth and development of in-house talent are some virtues that people normally do not associate with Real. However, with the club going all out for the purchase of Isco and former Castilla graduate Asier Illaramendi besides the reunion with Daniel Carvajal point towards a youth oriented future at the Bernebeau.

Isco Joins Real Madrid CF

The signing of Isco shows the shift of focus at Madrid

It would be hard to argue that the 3 recruits so far do not bring a different dimension to a burgeoning squad – Isco has been hailed as one of the brightest prospects to have emerged in Spanish football. The young midfielder, who can play in several positions in attack brings the ability to unlock defenses with an hawk-eyed vision. Add to this, the ability to dribble at a fair notch and a scorching right foot ensure that Madrid have a talent that has the potential to scale heights in the not very distant future.

Asier Illaramendi, the most expensive signing of the trio is a graduate of Real Sociedad youth academy. The central midfielder played a key part in Sociedad’s ascend to the top rung of Spanish football. Known for his precision passing and ability to break up play, the midfielder is seen as a natural heir to Xabi Alonso, who has co-incidentally seen his stock plummet over the past season.

After making his senior breakthrough in the Bundesliga with Leverkusen, Carvajal was brought back to the Bernebeau as Real exercised their buy back clause. Over the past season, the young defender has impressed many suitors with his unerring consistency in one of the top leagues in Europe and being named in the top three right backs of the Bundesliga testify how his stock has risen over the past year. Inspite of being a solid full-back defensively, Arbeloa does not offer much in attack and the inclusion of Carvajal would definitely change that. It would be intriguing to see the partnership that Di Maria and Carvajal form down the right, given the Argentinian’s tendency to cut in-field, leaving a plenitude of space for the Spaniard to exploit.

Besides the trio of signings, the in-house talent of the club may well be provided with a launchpad this season. Jese Rodriguez, a bright yet raw potential has been touted as a future first squad player.

Zidane showed the desperation at Madrid to ensure the youngster stayed on at the Bernabeu – “Jese cannot move from here .We cannot lose him. He has to be in the first team with a renewed contract.”

Another one of the cantera stars who is expected to progress is striker Alvaro Morata. After making his breakthrough last season, the forward impressed in the U-21 Euros and is expected to feature more regularly this campaign. Defender Nacho Fernandez is also expected to make the jump provided there are no further signings in defense. Brazilian recruit Casemiro, who has fallen short of expectations since impressing at Sao Paulo will look to find that Midas touch which brought him many suitors, once again.

Youth has never been high on the agenda of Florentino Perez and Co. The club has always resorted to the short-cut of buying established talent rather than establishing talent itself. The previous attempt made at blooding young potential with proven talent viz a viz the Zidanes and Pavones did not bring the desired outcomes for the administration as well as the fans and it remains to be seen whether or not Carlo Ancelotti can manage to handle the dominance of stardom and the enthusiasm of youth at the same time, and lead Real to the coveted La Decima.

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