Carvajal, Nacho, Morata, Jese - The Kids Are All Right!

Ian Walton

The Cantera has had a bumper-crop as the kids have impressed all year and at the U21.

Jese Rodriguez holds a new record this year. He's scored more goals than our legendary Emilio Butragueno did in the second division. His final goal of the year, in which he collected the ball nearly at the half-way line and then dribbled past 3 defenders on his way goalward before striking, had Florentino Perez on his feet. He will play in the U20 World Championship.

Dani Carvajal returns from Germany to Real Madrid named the 4th best fullback in that league. Impressive enough for a debut season. It's even more impressive when you realize that the other three (Philipp Lahm, David Alaba and Marcel Schmelzer) all played in the Champions League final. This week, when his replacement at Bayer Leverkusen was discussed it was not "Leverkusen's new fullback" who was being discussed. The press made the position his and German headlines read: "Carvajal's replacement could be coming..."

He has also been in Israel in summer.

Another young player at the tournament is Nacho, who is likely to sign on for Madrid in the long-term this week. That same snippet of news contains the information that Florentino Perez has determined that Jese, Carvajal and Nacho will all stick around and will be joining the Brazilian Casemiro for more first-team playing time.

There is a fifth player too, and that is Alvaro Morata.

During his tenure at Madrid, Mourinho often wanted a third striker. He rarely had one. Madrid seem to be leaning in that direction this summer though and Morata's outing at the U21 this summer in Israel was wonderful. It is not, historically, a tournament for many goals for the golden boot winner. The previous golden boot winner had 2 in the tournament. Morata managed 4 goals and 2 assists. He won out-right because no other player scored more than 3 goals.

This follows his accomplishment as an U19, when he managed the same feat in the tournament with 6 goals.

Morata had a very interesting tournament. He was not always a starter, for example and though he played in every game was subbed on more often than starting. Spain were goal-shy in the first two games, and Morata (substituted in just after the hour mark in both games) scored the only goals of those games. A splendid header against Russia and a fine piece of individual work against Germany to break the deadlock.

In his first start of the tournament against Holland, Morata scored again, early in the game, showing he was not just some super-sub.

Against Norway he scored an angled shot off the rebound from a ball he had to keep in play. With defenders rushing into the box the goal showed composure, calm and accuracy.

In the final yesterday he had, admittedly, a fairly anonymous game compared to his previous outings. But his team won 4-2 against Italy in a thriller (one highly recommends watching this game) and Morata did assist the first goal. Even in a quiet game, his quality was there.

There is some considerable interest in Morata this transfer season. He entered the tournament rather underrated by commentators. Now clubs like Napoli and Liverpool are interested.

The player is very firm in what he wants, however. He wants to stay at Madrid with Jese, Nacho, Casemiro and Carvajal. Increasingly, it looks like he could be given a chance behind Benzema and whatever striker Madrid take on to replace the want-away Gonzalo Higuain.

It is, strangely, a season in which it seems lucky to be one of the Canteranos. Zinedine Zidane is an open fan of most of these players. In general: the kids are all right.

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