An academy has two roles. The first is to provide the first team with starters and depth pieces; while the second role is to ensure the quality of youth prospects are good enough to command substantial fees if they do fall short of breaking into the first team. To judge Castilla by both functions, one will find the club is failing to produce quality starters for themselves, but are thriving when it comes to producing quality depth and players who command high fees when sold.
Who is Real Madrid’s most successful youth product from 2010 - 2019?
Depending on who you are, it may be sad that Nacho may have been Real Madrid’s best youth prospect over the past decade. Nacho has added quality depth from the moment he was integrated into the squad. This is Nacho’s 20th season associated with Real Madrid at some level and at this point in time, this is the best Castilla can give Madrid. The starting level for Real Madrid is so high that unless you are a world-class young talent like Rodrygo or Vinicius, starting opportunities are few and far between and it is that fact that drives youth players away and not towards Real Madrid stardom.
Is there any further ambition for Castilla from the Real Madrid board?
It seems Florentino Perez and the Real Madrid board are quite content with how the academy process is going as they have been able to command massive sums for some of their prospects who didn’t quite make the grade (like Morata or Jese, for example). But it would be best for a massive investment to be made into the academy to ensure it can get to the level of producing starter level players.
The Madrid brass felt totally comfortable dropping obscene amounts on three Brazilian teenagers, but are failing to find premier talent in Spain. Isn’t this one of world football’s most productive talent pipelines? A rebrand is necessary and vital. The more Morata’s you produce, the more you will be able to ease the financial strains you have, and who knows, maybe you can actually get lucky and produce a Vinicius of your own.
Needed youth integration
The love fans have for academy players who become key starters is different than that of a star signing who becomes an immediate contributor. When Raul Gonzalez and Iker Casillas turned out for the Bernabeu faithful surrounded by all the other Galactico’s, fans had a special connection to them that has survived till this day. In the current squad, the closest thing they have to that is Sergio Ramos who has grown into a world-class player from a promising youth talent over the last 15 years. Real Madrid have always been short-term-minded in squad building. A proper youth system would allow them to plan transitions better while generating a positive atmosphere for fans as they can root for their favourite kids to make the grade.
Judge an Academy by where the rejects play. The fact that Real Madrid’s rejects can be starter level players for other elite European clubs indicates the potential for a world-class academy. More attention and resources will lead to more high quality youth players for Real Madrid over this current decade.