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.
Some three hours before making his way to his seat at Estadio Alfredo di Stefano to take in Real Madrid’s 2 - 2 draw with Linares, Carlo Ancelotti addressed the media in the pre-Espanyol press conference.
“If Marco (Asensio) leaves we’re not going to sign anyone because we don’t need to.” Ancelotti said.
As always, what Ancelotti says publicly has hidden meanings, and in this particular case — like most transfers he’s seen come and go during his tenures as a Real Madrid coach — he doesn’t have a full say in who is sold and who is purchased, though he is the one who has to answer the questions.
It’s clear that Real Madrid’s evaluation of the right wingers on the market were not that high. It was Kylian Mbappe or bust. Whether Carlo Ancelotti agrees with that or not may not matter but he will absorb the PR damage control of it. But if he feels the team does need insurance if Asensio does leave, he may not have to look much further than the seats he sat in today:
Carlo watching Castilla today -- undoubtedly to further scout out Arribas and promote him.— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) August 27, 2022
(probably not) pic.twitter.com/nzAfHbivOv
It is not a well kept secret to those who watch Castilla play regularly — or even to Real Madrid fans who’ve seen the attacker’s cameos with the senior side — but Sergio Arribas is probably ready to be promoted full-time, and at the very least, has outgrown the youth sides long ago.
Arribas, who scored in the second half of today’s game, has the skill-set that Carlo likes in his attacking players. Though he regularly plays down the middle, he can play on either wing, works hard defensively, tracks back reliably, has a deft first touch, can break lines, and has Hawkeye-like vision to go with his lazer execution. In tonight’s game, you could see his ability to move between the lines and control balls in tight-knit areas, and it’s fitting that in his goal he was the recipient of a pass from another promising attacker, Peter Federico:
62’ GOLAZOOOOOOOO SERGIO ARRIBAS !!!— Real Madrid Fabrica (@FabricaMadrid) August 27, 2022
Assist from Peter Federico - his second today.
Castilla 2-1 RB Linense!!
But today’s performance is almost moot. Why Arribas should be promoted has less to do with his goal vs Linares and more to do with what he’s been doing for the good part of two years now. If Asensio leaves, that should free up around 1500 minutes. Arribas does not need to take playing time away from Rodrygo Goes or Fede Valverde (nor should he), but incorporating him early into the season would be important if some nightmare scenario emerged later in the season in a big game where Fede has to shift centrally and Vazquez has to play right-back. In most cases like that, Castilla players won’t be trusted in a pickle — but having them in rhythm by then will increase their chances.
Arribas is 20. I have long advocated that I’d rather promote him than splash on a B-or-C-tier attacker who’d cost north of 50m and would soak up salary, playing time, and precious development minutes. Some of the Premier League spending is ludicrous. If the club really wanted a super-duper-star or nothing, then promoting Arribas could be a good salvation of the transfer window should Asensio leave.
It is understood that being Karim Benzema’s back-up is virtually impossible, but with depth withering and no fresh faces arriving, Arribas could be the answer. Everyone else under the Real Madrid umbrella who could help — Brahim Diaz, Takefusa Kubo, etc — has their own barriers, and won’t be ready until next season anyway — if ever — at the earliest.
“I don’t know anything new about it,” Ancelotti said today about Asensio’s situation. “He’s evaluating his position and we’re waiting. It’ll all be clarified by September 2nd and if he stays then he’ll be an important member of our squad. If he wants to leave and there’s a good option for the club, we’ll have to evaluate it.”
One thing is clear, waiting until September 2nd will leave you with no options for replacements. Ancelotti will either have to ride with what he has, or trust the youth products. Sometimes the latter that isn’t so bad, as we’ve found out with Vinicius Jr recently, or Raul as a 17-year old prodigy in the 90s.