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Solari Leading Youth Transition at Madrid

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The Argentine has given prominence to youngsters who were once left out on the fringes

Real Madrid vs Melilla - Copa del Rey - Fourth Round Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Florentino Perez and the club hierarchy have been stock piling the brightest young talents the game has to offer in hopes of finding the next crop of generational talents. Players like Marco Asensio, Dani Ceballos, Vinicius JR, Fede Valverde, Martin Odeegard, Theo Hernandez, Alvaro Odriozola, and Rodyrgo Goes are among the many names. Coupled with the investment they have made in their own youth system and the talent continually sprouting from their own seeds, i.e.— Marcos Llorente, Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Reguilon, Borja Mayoral, Oscar Rodriguez, Javi Sanchez, Cesar Gelabert and many more—the club now has an embarrassing wealth of young talent at their disposal. With an aging core and lackluster results from the early part of the season, Florentino Perez was in desperate need of a coach who could begin a transition. This transition would gradually introduce the young players into the first team fold and create a healthy competition with the established stars. Not every player listed above will make it at Real Madrid, more than likely two-thirds of those players will be at another club in five to six years time. Though, with the gradual changing of the guard over the next few years, it’s up to the manager to find out which of the names above can make it—who will be a part of the next generation?

It’s a clear role and Santiago Solari was the man selected for this role . Despite the largely negative narrative surrounding Solari prior to his arrival—this is a role he has been preparing for over the last five years since first taking a job as a youth team coach for Real Madrid in 2013. “Since 2000, when I arrived as a player, the focus has been on the academy, the facilities, and the people who work on the development side. I’ve had the fortune to have done it (as a coach) and it’s a very hard, anonymous job which isn’t always appreciated because the results aren’t seen immediately. The results at this club can be translated in to numbers. There are 11 players in the squad that have been through the academy and there are 90 players in the first and second division that have been a art of Real Madrid’s academy” the Argentine commented in a press conference prior to the Melilla match.

Santiago Solari takes great pride in the success of the academy and recognizes how hard those players work to reach their goal. He reiterated as this after the debut of Javi Sanchez, a player who has worked his way through every category of Madrid’s youth system. It is an eerily similar story to Sergio Reguilon, another who has worked his way through each level of Madrid’s academy and another who has earned a more prominent role under Solari and responded with stellar performances. Solari has a clear commitment and investment in Madrid’s youth because he has been harboring and working with that talent for years. His confidence and commitment to getting the best out of these young players has been rewarded with their on field performances. Marcos Llorente, Dani Ceballos, and Sergio Reguilon all showcased their worth over the win against Valencia. Those three players were no where near starting at the Santiago Bernabeu in a big La Liga clash at this time last season. The role of each young player seems to be growing organically, each producing steady and confidence-building performances each week. It’s not just two or three young players either, Solari has given substantial and significant minutes to: Odriozola, Reguilon, Javi Sanchez, Fede Valverde, Marcos Llorente, Dani Ceballos, Marcos Asensio, and Vinicius JR—something his predecessor did not feel comfortable implementing. In what has otherwise been a subpar season, Solari is now giving fans a glimpse into the prestigious and hungry talents that have been restrained to the sidelines for too long.