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The Real Madrid Castilla 2016-17 End of Season Review!

Sam Sharpe goes through the entire squad, including the manager, and sums up their season with a rating.

Welcome to my review of the 2016/17 season! This year has been very hit and miss. It’s been a forgetful campaign, with few positives to take away. In this end-of-season review, I will summarize the efforts of the entire squad, manager included, and finish with a season rating out of 10. Keep in mind that a player can play two full games and receive a 10/10 rating, but that does not mean said player has had a better season than someone who has played 25 and scored a 7/10. I hope you guys enjoy, and be sure to leave a comment if you agree or disagree on a point. Also feel free to have your say on twitter! Here we go:

The Manager!

Santiago Solari

Solari was promoted into the Castilla hot seat from the u19s last summer, where he saw a reasonable amount of success. The Castilla squad wasn’t as strong as last season’s, but it still had the quality to fight for promotion. Unfortunately, Solari failed in every aspect of his job. On the pitch, he set his team up terribly, misplaying key players and enforcing hopeless tactics. Away from it, he offered next to no guidance of progression for his players, with the majority of the squad standing still or even taking a step backwards over the course of the campaign. When the dream of a Real Madrid first team contract requires nothing less than huge strides forwards in development, wasting an entire season can be devastating for the hopes of these kids. He should have been fired mere months into his tenure. Astonishingly, he managed to keep his job for the entire season. It’s difficult to tell just how damaging his reign has been, but one thing is for sure, Solari’s replacement has one hell of a job on his hands to clear up the mess left behind for him.

Castilla rating: 1/10.

Perhaps the less said, the better.

The Players!

Carlos Abad

Castilla’s best keeper for two seasons straight. Was consistently good throughout. Pulled off some brilliant saves! He was dropped at random times this season for seemingly little reason, but always found himself back in the ‘number 1’ jersey eventually. Topped the clean sheets table for the second year in a row, with six. He is still a Tenerife player, on loan at Madrid, and will not be a Castilla player next season. There have been rumours circling around that Real are interested in buying him out-right for the first team. This of course depends on the summer movements of the three keepers the club already has. But it would be a fitting reward for his efforts during his time at Castilla.

Castilla rating: 7/10.

Would Abad make a good third choice option for the first team?

Luca Zidane

If you asked me for my opinion on Luca during the first half of the season, I would’ve told you he was one of the worst players I had ever seen. And rightly so. He made so many fatal mistakes that directly led to a goal, for both Castilla and the u19s in the UEFA Youth League. His positioning was terrible, and decision making even worse, yet he was still given chance after chance. After a spell on the bench, he came back into the side a changed player. He made some very good saves, stopped doing the silly things that ruined his game, and actually looked a decent keeper. He even earned two ‘man of the match awards’ during this time. He also recorded the second most clean sheets this year, with two. Luca was called up to the first team squad on four occasions this season, but did not feature for them. He won his first career honour when Madrid lifted the SuperCup in Trondheim. He did get to feature for France u19s during each of his three call ups for them. He’ll be at Castilla next season, but if Craninx stays then Luca should only be second choice. Sadly, with the old man in charge, I can see him getting way more opportunities than he deserves. He was nominated for the prestigious European golden boy 2017 award, but I’m not sure why.

Castilla rating: 4.5/10.

Álex Craninx

I thought he would be fighting for the number one spot this year until Madrid chose to renew Abad’s lease. It has been another wasteful year for this talented keeper. He made only three appearances, all during the last three games. During those three games, he really impressed; earning two ‘man of the match’ awards. To put that into context, it took Carlos Abad 27 games to earn the same amount. Craninx was the most unused substitute this season, sitting on the bench 20 times. He did make the first team squad on four occasions, but it didn’t get much better for poor Álex. Real Madrid have let this guy down. If he stays around next season then he deserves the ‘number 1’ jersey, if not then perhaps he is better off elsewhere.

Castilla rating: 7.5/10.

3 games; 2 'Man of The Match' awards...

Achraf Hakimi

The second-best right back I have ever seen play for Castilla. Only beaten by a certain Dani Carvajal. The highest assister in the team from defence, with eight. That’s a higher tally than any other player has managed in the last two seasons… He is so strong on the ball, and can beat a player with ease. Defensively he is very switched on, and shows maturity on the pitch well beyond his years. Achraf was rewarded for his efforts when he was given his International debut for Morocco against Canada. Spent pre-season with the first team, and featured in the UEFA Youth League for the u-19s right up until their semi-final exit. It’s been a great individual season for this man, and I believe he is ready to follow in the footsteps of Carvajal, and find a loan deal at a top level. If that goes well, then he can achieve whatever he wants in football. He is a very special talent.

Castilla rating: 7.5/10.

Philipp Lienhart

Earned plaudits far and wide for his pre-season stint with the first team. Came off the back of a good first season with Castilla, and was looking to push on. Was stitched up a bit by the management, who crammed a group of players together, hoping they would gel into a good defensive unit. This took a long time, but they did end up improving. Lienhart individually has had a frustrating season with Castilla, failing to impress with most of his performances. This could be pretty damaging to his chances of a first team contract, as he doesn’t seem to have taken any developmental steps forward. His only saviour could be his displays with his u-21 national team in Austria, which were exceptional. I watched all of his games, as Lienhart captained an impressive Austrian side all the way to the playoff finals of the u-21 European Championship qualification rounds, only just losing out to a star-studded Spain team. He even scored against Germany! A solid defender, I would like to see him be the main man in Castilla’s defence next season, but rumours are his Castilla days could be over...

Castilla rating: 5.5/10.

What lies ahead for Philipp Lienhart?

Mario Hermoso

A player that was brought down a league in which he excelled as a left back, and transformed into a centre back in a last-ditch attempt to strengthen the defence after Castilla failed in a bid to sign Ulrik Jenssen. A very talented player, he was one of the best defenders this year for the whites. This season could have easily been make-or-break for Mario, and individually he was at times excellent. One of the leaders of the team. With Vallejo and Llorente ahead of him in the promising centre-back pecking order, Hermoso may have ran out of luck. But with a good loan move next season at the highest possible level, I can see him pushing on and giving Madrid a tough choice of who to keep. He got the most yellow cards this year, with 16.

Castilla rating: 7/10.

Hermoso has given plenty of reason for optimism.

Javier Sánchez

Looked strong whenever he played. Was the third-choice centre back this term, and I think he has done enough this season to make a decent case for a starting spot next year. Scored two goals, making him the second highest scoring defender!

Castilla rating: 6.5/10.

Alex Salto

Bizarrely played in more Castilla games last year when he was a u19 player (12 games), than he did this year (four games). He played quite well in those appearances, but Castilla only won one of those four (against Barakaldo), and conceded in every single one. Looks a good player, but it has been a wasted season for him. Still needs a full year with Castilla under his belt, and if he stays for next season I think he will feature a lot more.

Castilla rating: 6/10.

Lots of promise, no opportunity...

Álvaro Tejero

Last season I gave Tejero a rating of 9/10. He was going to have to do very well to beat that this term, and unfortunately, he was unable to. He was not bad by any means, and at times put on a fantastic display, but overall, he failed to produce the same level of consistency that he did last time out. However, he has progressed even further with the first team this year, often training with them. He even featured twice for them this season, recording his first Real Madrid assist against Leonesa in the Copa Del Rey, and making his La Liga debut against Deportivo. For Castilla, he was joint third when it came to assists, with three. I’m not certain what will happen with Tejero next year, but I personally think it’s time for his next challenge.

Castilla Rating: 6.5/10.

Álvaro Tejero; a favourite in the eyes of the first team.

Luismi Quezada

Spent last year out on loan away from the club, which obviously helped him. At first I was very skeptical when Castilla opted to keep Quezada at the club ahead of others, but boy did he prove me wrong. After a quiet first half of the season, he shot into the limelight in 2017, scoring four goals and recording two assists. He was probably the best player towards the end of the year, and saw himself go from third-choice left back to undisputed first. I’ll have to hand it to Kiyan on this one, who rated him from the start. Has one of the best crossing techniques at the entire club. I’m not sure what will become of Quezada next season. He could stay at Castilla, but he’s going to be 22 soon… It is probably best for him to play as high as possible and try and impress Zidane from afar.

Castilla rating: 7.5/10

Luismi Quezada had a sensational second half of the season.


Was always going to make an improvement after featuring just once last term due to injury. It was great to see him back! He played consistently well and even had a cameo on the wing where he didn’t disappoint. Tragically, it looks like his injury has gotten in the way of his first team dream. That isn’t his fault at all, but football can be a cruel sport. Probably should look to rebuild away from the club next year. He could easily replicate the success of Fabinho or Marcos Alonso in the future, and could have Madrid ruing the day they let him go! I wish him all the best as he is a great player!

Castilla rating: 6/10.

Abner is a player good enough to overcome his horrific injuries.

Aleix Febas

The 2016/17 player of the season! My personal favourite Castilla player (no bias). What a year it has been for the little magician. Last season I scored him a 9/10, but when you put that into context, he’s actually improved this time out. With a big drop in squad depth coming into this campaign, Febas was forced to step up and produce his best form. Step up he did. At times, he was simply sublime. He got the most man-of-the-match awards this season, and became one of the leaders of the group. He even captained the side from time to time. At this level, it looked impossible to get the ball away from him, and he must be the most fouled player I have ever seen. His efforts did not go unrewarded, as he has signed a contract taking him into the first team from next season. From there he will likely be sent out on loan, but he is on the right track. Castilla will have a difficult job replacing this talent for sure.

Castilla rating: 8.5/10.

Fede Valverde

What a debut season. Just pipped to the ‘Player of the season’ title by Febas. Although he did play six less games than the Spaniard, and I genuinely believe had he played in these matches he would have snatched the honour. At the start of the year, I criticized him for playing it too simple, but it became obvious that his best work was yet to come. I can see Madrid have a plan for this talent as his position this year has been so specific, and he has become accustomed to it, pushing him on to be perhaps Castilla’s most important player. He controlled everything for the whites, picking the ball up from deep and pulling the strings going forwards. He was so good that Madrid blocked him from leaving to play for Uruguay u20s twice, as they needed him for their own games. He ended up with three goals and two assists, and even recorded one clean sheet when asked to play at centre back. Impressively, he had the second most man-of-the-match awards, with six. Next year if he stays at Castilla then it will have to include plenty of first team opportunities, if not then he could easily play at a higher level on loan! I personally would be thrilled if he stayed for another year, but perhaps I’m being selfish. He is now going to jet off to play in the under 20s world cup for Uruguay. What a player!

Castilla rating: 8.5/10.

The world is Fede's oyster.

Francisco Tena

When Marcos Llorente departed the team at the end of last season, he left some ginormous boots to fill. Sevilla B captain Tena was brought in to plug the gap, and what a steal he looked to be. His Sevilla highlights were amazing, and he was very highly rated by the fans of the massive club. He was experienced, as he had already made his Sevilla debut, and achieved promotion with the B team the season prior. All of this makes me wonder what went wrong. We bought a diamond and received a pebble. He just did not accomplish anything during the season, and was subsequently dropped. If he turned up at any point, then this season could have gone very differently. Some self-made beef with fans on Twitter didn’t help his case, and put the cherry on top of the distasteful cake that is his forgetful Castilla career. Highly doubt that he will be at Castilla next year. Worst player of the year, and I’m not even sure I can blame Solari for this one.

Castilla rating: 4/10

Tena could have been so much more...

Jaime Seoane

Looked good when he featured for Castilla, which wasn’t as often as I thought it would be. Signed a new contract with Real Madrid, keeping him at the club until 2020, so he still has a big part to play for Castilla. Played for the u19s throughout their Youth League campaign, scoring in the Semi-Finals. Could potentially be a starter next season! Gained one ‘man of the match’ award this season, which he will surely be looking to build on.

Castilla rating: 6/10.

The best is yet to come for Seoane.

Javi Muñoz

Very poor season from Muñoz. Should have left the club last summer on loan. This year could be the final blow to what was once a promising player in the eyes of the first team. After Ødegaard and Borja Sánchez left, he was one of the main men in midfield, and he just didn’t produce anywhere near the form required at this level. He will not be a Castilla player next year, and I hope he finds the right move for him. All the best, Javi!

Castilla rating: 5/10.

Cristian Cedrés

I thought he was going to be huge this year, especially after the first few games, where he linked up with Sergio Díaz brilliantly. Boy, was I wrong, and there’s only one man to blame. Santiago Solari. It was going very well for Cristian, and then for reasons unknown, Solari decided to stop playing right wingers on the right wing, opting to isolate Díaz there instead, effectively killing the season off for Castilla. Cedrés has probably suffered even more than Díaz this year. If he reached his full potential, then the sky was the limit for him. Since Solari made that baffling decision, he contributed to no goals and no assists in the few games he played. He will not be at Castilla next year. I have seen rumours linking him to La Liga club Las Palmas which would be a great move! Solari has really let this young man down…

Castilla rating: 5.5/10.

Oh, what could have been...

Lin Liangming

Another victim of Solari’s incompetence. Contributed with a vital assist on his Castilla debut during the opening fixture, but since then has barely been used. Real Madrid reportedly rejected a huge bid for him from back home last summer. Called up to his youth national team at least twice this year. We will hopefully be seeing a lot more of Lin at Castilla next year!

Castilla rating: 5/10.

There's still lots of hope for Lin!

Enzo Zidane

Captained the side again this year. Really should have left Castilla on loan, but opted to stay put, and it proved to be a poor choice. Although his stats were decent, and he trained with the first team nearly every day, he didn’t make much of an impact on the field for Castilla, as shown with his zero man of the match awards. A frustrating player, at times world class, at others non-existent. He was called up to the first team on three occasions, and played once, scoring his first Real Madrid goal! His good stats and even better performances for the first team could save his first team chances. He’ll be looking to go out on loan at a high level for next season. Time is running out for Enzo Zidane.

Castilla Rating: 6/10.

Can Enzo make it in the first team?

Mario Rodríguez

Was one of the best players in pre-season for Castilla. But to Solari, this meant nothing, as his talents were completely wasted this year. He featured for the u-19s frequently in their UEFA Youth League campaign, scoring against Borussia Dortmund for them. But he still never really got a look in at Castilla, coming on as a sub when he did get a chance. I’m cautious after saying this about Cedrés last year, but Rodríguez could be absolutely huge at Castilla next season if given the right platform to play on.

Castilla rating: 5/10.

The next Asensio or the next Cedrés?

Nikos Vergos

Was brought in towards the end of the summer on loan from Olympiakos, having played at a higher standard than Castilla for his whole career. After a slow start, he found some good form in the second half of the season, becoming our second top scorer, and earning him a return to the Greece u-21 squad, where he scored the winner against Hungary. Vergos combines great strength with quick feet, making him a danger to any defence. He is good in the air and isn’t as slow as you would expect. I hate to say it but I doubt he has a future at Real Madrid. That being said, he is already on the books of a big European club in Olympiakos, and should now be expectant of plenty of opportunities with the Greek champions. He will definitely leave a mark at Castilla. Good player!

Castilla rating: 7/10.

Víctor Campuzano

Campuzano was one of the more low-key signings for this season, arriving from the Espanyol academy. He has ended up being one of the best players. Our top scorer with six goals, Campuzano, like all our strikers this year, is very much a striker that finds his form at certain times during a season. If he learns to be more consistent, then he could be a fantastic player in La Liga in the future. He has settled in brilliantly, and looks a great character. On the ball he is technically strong, with a finish to match. Has he got a future at Madrid? Only time will tell, but Víctor will make sure he gives it his all to try and make the cut. He will be a Castilla player next year, and I want to see him do even better than this season.

Castilla rating: 7.5/10.

Campuzano will be looking to step up even more next year!

Sergio Díaz

Where do I start with Sergio? This year’s big name signing, the Paraguayan prodigy had perhaps the best Castilla start of all time! He spent pre-season with the first team, and was doing things with a football that made me question my own existence. Sergio scored the goal of the season, against Amorebieta from almost the half way line! He quickly became the team’s top scorer with 5 goals, and there was talk of a first team debut, and a national team call up on the horizon.

Step in Santiago Solari. For whatever reason, Solari decided he would experiment with Díaz on the wing, and it did not work. Unbelievably, Solari decided to stick with this choice for the duration of the campaign, and Sergio found his fantastic form snatched away from him. He became isolated and frustrated in games, contributing next to nothing. The team slumped as a result, and dropped out of the play-off places.

Developmentally speaking, this was a disaster for Díaz, who didn’t get another goal or assist all season, and saw his confidence in front of goal vanish. He has not looked the same since, and I desperately hope that this damage isn’t irreversible. I feel bad giving him such a low score when it wasn’t his fault at all, but the sad truth is he only showed up for the first couple of months, before having his young career destroyed at the hands of a man who didn’t understand what he was doing. I don’t know what will happen to him next season, but I would like to see him complete a full year up front for Castilla. The biggest positive for Díaz this season? He has contributed to nine goals in eight games for the u19s, a team ran by Solari’s likely successor, Guti. Brilliantly, he earned his first Paraguay senior team call up at the end of the season! I’m really hoping that this call up, and a right change, ahead of next season, can save his confidence levels, and ultimately, his Real Madrid career… To be continued!

Castilla rating: 6.5/10.

Sergio Díaz. From hero to victim...

The exports!

Carlos Cobo

Got called up from the u-19s when Castilla were running low on left backs, and played 57 minutes before getting two yellow cards and receiving his marching orders. Nevertheless, he did look a good player when he was on, and I do hope he gets promoted to Castilla for next year.

Castilla rating: 3/10.


Played just 14 minutes for Castilla, as he got a call up from the u-19s. But from those 14 minutes I could tell he was a very good player. Will hopefully be promoted to Castilla for next season and we can see much more of him.

Castilla rating: -/10.

Martin Ødegaard

Was supposed to leave on loan during the summer after a stellar 2016 in Madrid, but complications with his age meant that he was stuck at Castilla until at least January. He sure made the most of that! In less than half a season, he replicated his highest scoring season ever, scoring three times for Castilla and two for Norway’s u-21s. More impressively, he earned four man of the match awards, finishing in joint third over the whole season for the team. He also trained with the first team regularly, and was called up to two matchday squads. He earned his first start for Real Madrid, producing a man of the match display against Leonesa in the Copa Del Rey. Boy, did we miss him in 2017. After the Rennes move broke down he Joined Heerenven in January, where he has put in some good displays, and recorded three assists in the Dutch league. But for Ødegaard, the best is still yet to come.

Castilla rating: 7.5/10.

Borja Sánchez

The best player in Pre-season, no doubt about it. Looked wonderfully gifted, and after spending last year out on loan, he looked like he had returned with a spring in his step. Sadly, Castilla’s manager was Santiago Solari. Borja never have a shot. He played 18 minutes, before managing to abandon the sinking Castilla ship as Mallorca came calling. Another talented player gone because of Solari… No rating.

Castilla rating: -/10.

José Lazo

Another player I thought would have a big part to play this term. Very talented winger. Was great last year, and had a good pre-season. He even featured in the opening game, a dramatic 3-2 win over Real Sociedad. By next week he had been sold. Villarreal took advantage of Solari’s decision, which at the time I branded unacceptable. No rating.

Castilla rating: -/10.

Gorka Zabarte

Called into action twice this year. Made his debut during the last game of the season against Albacete, playing one minute. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of him in the future! No rating.

Castilla rating: -/10.

Alex Martin also received a Castilla call up this year from the u19s, but did not feature. No rating.


The 2016/17 season has been a massive failure. In my eyes, there is only one man to blame. The team did show promise at times, and picked up some great results, memorably beating the likes of group champions Albacete, Athletic Bilbao B and Barakaldo. However, on the whole they were predictable with their play, and failed to catch the eye of the plummeting attendances. Next season will surely see improvements made, in every department. I wish those leaving the club for the next step in their careers the very best, and hope that every player damaged by the poor management this season can make a full recovery, and get back on the right track. There is a massive summer ahead for Castilla. The management will thankfully be changing, and new and exciting prospects will join some of our current players to hopefully create a strong squad going into the 17/18 season. I want to take this moment to thank each one of you for following me this season, I really could not have continued without your support! Be sure to leave a comment if you want to have a say, or tweet me at @CastillaStats. Here’s to a better 2017/18!

Castilla Season verdict: Fail.

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