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Real Madrid’s Preseason Squad Shockingly Includes Only One Rising Star from the Youth Academy

There were some surprise exclusions from the preseason squad list. 

Real Madrid Castilla v CD Eldense - Primera RFEF Play Off Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Preseason is often a time to experiment with the squad and give younger players an opportunity to train and play with the best in the world. Given the grueling training sessions and short turn around between games, a big squad allows for managers to rotate heavily and avoid injuries. Historically, Madrid have always brought a handful of Castilla and youth team players to join the preseason tour. It is often a nod to their progression and chance for the staff, players, media, and fans to see what quality is waiting in the reserves.

This preseason will be different. Carlo Ancelotti has opted to bring only one outfield player: the talented Nico Paz. The 18-year-old Argentinian has been previously lauded by the likes of Toni Kroos and has already been called up to the senior Argentinian national team. Despite being the child of Argentinian parents, Nico Paz was born in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain. He has yet to make his first team debut, but began featuring heavily for Raul’s Castilla side in the second half of the season as they battled for promotion to Segunda.

Carlo Ancelotti had previously mentioned in February of this year, that Alvaro Rodriguez would be a part of the first team setup this season, but the Uruguayan has not made the list for the preseason squad. Given that Joselu is the only true number nine in the squad, it was surprising not to see Alvaro get a call-up. Despite rumors of an imminient loan move or transfer with a buy-back option, there was also no room for the best talent in the academy in over a decade: Sergio Arribas. The Spanish playmaker is expected to fetch around 10 million euros, if transferred, with Borussia Dortmund among those interested. There was also no room for the likes of Rafa Marin (expected to move to Betis), Alvaro Carrillo, Obrador, Peter Federico, or Vinicius Tobias – the latter a player whom Ancelotti appeared to think highly of last preseason.

Being the lone academy prospect to join the squad is a huge compliment to Nico Paz and the talent he possesses. Along with Arda Guler, he will be the youngest member of the team. Guler and Paz will duke it out for minutes as they both appear to prefer the hybrid attacking midfield / right winger spot and both like to cut-in on their left foot. Expectation is that Nico Paz will feature heavily for Castilla this season, but may earn the odd call-up to the first team depending on the level shown in preseason.

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