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Real Madrid Loanees: Season in Review

Taking a look at the ups and downs of the Real Madrid players on loan this season.

Deportivo Alaves v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

The loan system is commonly used by clubs seeking to have their players receive more time on the pitch. Some loans are wildly successful, and help launch a young player’s career, while some loans are not, and can even go as far as to stagnate one’s career. No matter the success, the ultimate goal by the parent club is to try and find their next potential superstar.

This season, Real Madrid sent seven players out on loan. As expected, not every single one went well. A few of these seven turned in highly successful seasons, a few more turned in average/ordinary seasons, and the rest are better left not talked about at all. Some players in particular performed so well that they have warranted a spot in the first team for next season. Below is a review of every player Real Madrid sent out on loan this season, along with their results.


The first player we will be reviewing is 23-year-old Burgui. The young winger was on loan at Sporting Gijón (recently relegated). Despite that negative situation, Burgui actually turned in a very solid season.

Over the course of 32 appearances for a team that consistently struggled to score goals, Burgui scored two, and assisted four. These numbers are nothing to rave about, necessarily, but the 32 chances he created in those matches are. The Spaniard was a massive bright spot for a terrible Sporting side.

Despite his great season, however, it is unlikely that he will ever carve out a role at the club. Real Madrid’s depth on the wings is beyond ridiculous at the moment, and while Burgui had a great season, it is hard to see him even taking minutes off Madrid’s “least talented” winger Lucas Vazquez. Madrid will probably have to part with this academy player sooner rather than later. They will have to make the decision this Summer to either sell Burgui, or loan him for the third time in three seasons to see if he blooms late. All hope is not lost for the latter option, as this career trajectory was similar to that of the same Lucas Vazquez previously mentioned.

Diego Llorente

No player epitomized the up and down nature of loans more than Diego Llorente this season. After a great loan spell at Rayo Vallecano last season, Diego’s season at Malaga was far from consistent. There were matches when he showed the potential that leads many to think he could become Real Madrid’s third or fourth-choice center-back, but then there were also matches that showed exactly the opposite. Rash decisions, poor timing, and an occasional proneness for mistakes made him an unreliable option for Malaga.

After a season that featured Llorente being benched for weeks, having a game-winning goal wrongly ruled out, and seriously struggling in big matches (such as the 4-1 loss to Sevilla), it’s amazing that Llorente was able to become an integral piece to Malaga’s late-season resurgence. This was the highlight of his loan spell, and included a patch of games such as a clean sheet against Barcelona, and a thrilling win against the same Sevilla side that had embarrassed them months earlier.

Malaga CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga
Diego Llorente marshalls Luis Suarez
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Despite Diego’s late season surge, expect him to be loaned out again. He showed flashes of his potential, but is still plagued by inconsistency, and could use another season of game time free of the pressure that comes from playing at Real Madrid.

Martin Ødegaard

Loaned to Dutch club Heerenveen midway through the season, Martin Ødegaard showed flashes of the brilliance that made Real Madrid fight for his signature years ago. Towards the beginning of his loan, Ødegaard wowed with his quick feet and magnificent touch. While the press may say otherwise, Martin was thriving. His match away against Utrecht in particular was a noteworthy performance.

Used mostly as a substitute towards the end of April, the Norwegian worked hard to break into the starting XI, and was rewarded at the end of the season with four starts in a row. He scored his first goal with the club just a few weeks ago, and has stated that he would like to stay on loan at Heerenveen next season.

It is important to remember that Ødegaard is only 18 years old. He has a long, likely successful career ahead of him. Comments by fans or by the media about him being a failure are totally blown out of proportion. Madrid fans must be patient with him as he begins to validate his career in another country.

Borja Mayoral

Once billed as one of the future Spanish National Team strikers, Borja Mayoral’s loan at Wolfsburg can only be described as an abject failure. Playing in an unfriendly system, and for a manager that hardly had any interest in playing him, Mayoral was put in a very tough situation right from the beginning of his loan.

Starting just 4 matches, and being subbed on during 17 other occasions, the Spaniard was only able to muster up two goals in all competitions. Although he leads the line for a loaded Spanish u21 side, he barely received any minutes for the struggling German club. This was particularly puzzling considering how badly the team was playing. An injection of youthful exuberance would’ve served their stagnant football well.

VfL Wolfsburg v Hamburger SV - Bundesliga
Mayoral celebrates a Wolfsburg goal
Photo by Ronny Hartmann/Getty Images For MAN

Maybe this was Wolfsburg’s revenge for being knocked out of last season’s Champions League. Maybe Mayoral just didn’t do enough in training to warrant minutes. Whatever it is, his development is now at a crucial crossroads. It would be shocking for Mayoral not to move elsewhere this Summer. His loan at Wolfsburg has been nothing but bad, and he desperately needs a change of scenery to get his career back on track.

Jesús Vallejo

One of the shining loanees from the 2016/2017 season, Jesús Vallejo, showed his immense potential and quality for Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga. Flashing his incredible passing ability, Vallejo impressed Madrid so much that he has likely earned the third or fourth choice center back spot vacated by the now surely departing Pepe.

The central defender was essential to Frankfurt’s defense, playing as one of 3 center backs in a defense that was one of the best in the Bundesliga during the first half of the season. One of the things that one quickly notices with Vallejo, is how well he distributes the ball, almost as if he has no fear of incoming pressers.

Vallejo is more than capable with the ball at his feet, and the fact that he has good closing speed is a massive bonus.

Vallejo does, however, need to work on his aerial duels, where he did struggle this season. Vallejo won’t start for Madrid right away, as he is still likely the future at the position along with Varane. Another season on loan would have been best for his development, but Real Madrid will in all likelihood recall their promising starlet in order to integrate him into their first team. A player with huge potential, some even think he is a bigger talent than the other starlet at Real Madrid, Marco Asensio.

Lucas Silva

Believe it or not, Lucas Silva is still a Real Madrid player. The Brazilian has become so irrelevant that some Madridistas do not even remember that he still plays for the club. A promising talent a few years ago, Silva was bought by Real Madrid from Brazilian club Cruzeiro.

It’s safe to say his career has not quite panned out. After not playing in Madrid, a disastrous loan at Marseille, and a near career-derailing heart injury, Lucas Silva is now currently back with his former club at Cruzeiro on loan. Now relegated to a substitute’s role in Brazil, chances are he will never play in front of the Bernabeu faithful again.

Marcos Llorente

I had to save the most successful loan for last. Marcos Llorente was a revelation this season. Madridistas always saw talent in him, but none expected this level from him this season.

His development has been truly remarkable. Not only did he lead La Liga in tackles successfully completed, but he was also the heart and soul of an Alaves team that surprised all of Spain. He showed off his pinpoint passing, technique on the ball, and overall ability to dictate the tempo of a match.

These abilities helped land Alaves in the top half of Spanish Football, and even played a large role in the small club’s qualification for the Spanish Cup Final. There, they unfortunately lost to Real’s biggest rival Barcelona, but the fact that they even went that deep into a major competition is a huge accomplishment for a club their size.

Marcos Llorente will probably be brought back into Real Madrid’s first team, where he will shore up one of the few positions that lacked adequate depth this season: defensive midfield. Llorente is not a like-for-like replacement with Casemiro. Marcos Llorente gives the squad something different at the position, but something just as valuable. Many have complained about Casemiro’s shortcomings on the ball when pressured. Llorente is no Casemiro physically, however, his press resistance and distributive skills are undoubtedly an improvement over the Brazilian’s.

Were Real Madrid’s loanees a success overall?

Absolutely. Sure, Burgui and Lucas Silva will probably never make it at the club because they just aren’t talented enough, however, the remainder of the loan class was absolutely successful. To have two potential superstars in Marcos Llorente and Jesús Vallejo emerge from a group of seven loanees is an incredible return. The fact that three more players in Borja Mayoral, Martin Ødegaard, and Diego Llorente could all still become valuable squad players or even starters one day is another reason this loan class was so loaded with talent. These players are just more examples of Real Madrid’s growing focus on youth, and has many Madridistas enthusiastically looking forward to the future.

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