These observations — where I look at Real Madrid’s history, its players on loan, Castilla, tactical tidbits, and other relevant thoughts — are now a regular thing. All previous editions can be found here.
It flashed by quick, but Victor’s Chust’s one-year loan spell at Cadiz has concluded — somewhat unceremoniously and with little relevancy to the grand scheme of the transfer window. He headlines on a slow weekend, and signs permanently with Cadiz, whom he played with plenty, but didn’t do enough to coax Real Madrid into a squad role, especially not now with the plethora of center-backs at Carlo Ancelotti’s disposal.
It’s not that anyone is severely disappointed or took a shotgun to their expectations — ones that were rather tame to start — but it’s also true that not much stood out about Chust while watching him play week-in, week-out. He is not particularly bad (though, he is lagging behind on a few things, detailed later); but he’s not particularly good either. He may be fine as a fourth or fifth-choice center-back, but then, what’s the point? Chust starting every week for Cadiz makes more sense than other options on the table.
Perhaps some will be disappointed that Real didn’t bring big money in for him. Most loanees don’t pan out as Real Madrid players. That’s not a generalization or a lazy blanket statement. Matt Wiltse and I actually went back through every Real Madrid loanee in history (all the way back to the 50s, at least), and if you’re out on loan, it’s almost guaranteed you won’t come back permanently. But in most cases, you can flip those players for a profit, which is something that fans can often forget: Young players, as cruel as it sounds, are money-making pawns. Brought for cheap or for free, paid little, then sold for decent-to-great money.
But as Goal and Marca reported this weekend, Cadiz will pay just a 1m transfer fee to Real Madrid for Chust’s services. Is that bad? Not necessarily. Cadiz pay virtually nothing but also only hold on to 50% of his rights while the parent club, Real Madrid, have first right of refusal on any future Chust sale. In simpler terms, if Chust explodes and becomes great, Real Madrid can still have him. Selling him for 1m basically enables the club to keep him out on an “extended loan” where they don’t pay his salary but retain enough rights to make a calculated decision in the future.
Unless you’re really nerdy and have a thing for watching Cadiz every week to follow Chust, you may not care what happens here on in on a player who won’t be playing at an elite team and may never return. But having tracked him weekly, here’s what I’d want him to improve on: Tracking runners into the box and defending crosses. Ironically, those two traits were weak-points for Real Madrid last season. Chust struggled regularly knowing who’s behind him and what runs are being made. One simple run into his blind-spot was deadly when attacking Cadiz — particularly given that the left-back, Alfonso Espino, was a defensive liability and was easily beaten with a simple cut-in from the wing. Chust was fine in those situations where he had to come over to cover for Espino getting beat, but started sweating when he had to deal with cut-backs or crosses, and in particular tracking runners in the six-yard box.
In the spring, when Sergio Gonzalez took over managerial duties from Alvaro Cervera, Cadiz shifted to a 3-5-2 with Chust as the left elbow-back. Cadiz held the ball a bit more, in turn, increasing Chust’s touches. His ability on the ball wasn’t too bad. He is above average hitting outlets coming out of the back and is fine under pressure. He is also strong on 50/50 duels. But he is not a good ball progressor in general, and struggles hitting more daring passes between the lines. He does not have enough verticality to his game, both in passing range and in his ball-carrying.
Part of that naturally comes down to Cadiz not having much grip of the ball. In a different scheme — like at Celta Vigo, Rayo Vallecano, or Elche — Chust could have more build-up opportunities to continually work on those traits. At Cadiz — the team with the lowest possession (40.9% per game) — it’s tough.
Chust’s loan-stint at Cadiz was rather uneventful and underwhelming, and he leaves without making Real Madrid ponder too hard about his future. He’ll have to look to next season with one thing on his mind: Improve and leave his mark. Give something Real Madrid to think about.