Forza Futbol

A Better Lens at Spanish Football


The transfer policy of Real Madrid is supposed to be a balance of Super Star imports, the best Spanish players that money can buy and the cantera. Well of late, the first two criteria have been very true, but the cantera or youth academy/development has been pretty poor. Well, poor for Real Madrid, that is. Most youth players have had very little chance of breaking the starting eleven as the team demanded instant results. The club required proven players and the jump for Segunda B to Primera was deemed to steep.

The most recent opportunity emerged when Castilla was promoted from Segunda B (the third division) and played in Segunda A (the second division in Spain). This opportunity to rejuvenate and repurpose the cantera, really came to nothing. Several players left Castilla after promotion because they saw the writing on the wall and wanted first team football. Only Miguel Torres (now at Getafe) broke through to the Real Madrid first team. Add to that, Real Madrid really didn’t have the players in Real Madrid C to replenish Castilla, so they were relegated two years later, back to Segunda B. All in all, a very short term, short sighted approach to youth development and promotion.

That said, many Castilla and Real Madrid C players have moved on to play in other teams in La Liga and have flourished. One might say that the purpose of Real Madrid’s cantera is to prepare players to play in the rest of the Spanish league. But is this really something Real Madrid should be proud of? Or is it merely a waste of resources and lack of vision?

Here is a list of some of the active ex Real Madrid canteranos, now plying their trade elsewhere:

Samuel Eto’o (Inter), Juan Mata (Valencia), Borja Valero (Villarreal), Luis Garcia (Espanyol), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla), Roberto Soldado (Valencia) , Dani Parejo (Getafe), Jose Callejón (Espanyol), Juanfran (Atlético Madrid), Javi Garcia (Benfica) to name a few.

What do these players have in common? Attacking players who were given very little chance to reach their potential and play for the club of their youth and dreams. Unfortunately, they were not deemed important enough by the President, directors and coaches, who were more worried about their positions and instant success.

With the departure of Guti and Raúl (who originally came from Atlético), Iker Casillas is the only home grown canterano playing in the first team. Iker was scouted, formed, developed, promoted to, and succeeded in the first team. I guess you should also include Alvaro Arbeloa and Esteban Granero. But they were initially sold by the club, and later bought back, once they proved their worth at Liverpool and Getafe, respectively.

Is this really a successful youth policy? Is this the price of success?

Elisa On February - 7 - 2011

10 Responses so far.

  1. Raphael Harry says:

    True can't argue with this, part of the shame a Real Madrid fan has to leave with……… Funny enough more Castilla players had chances during the first reign of Fiorentino Perez and under coaches such as VDB, Queroz (still hate him), Capello etc. Today we so stuck on overthrowing Barsa that we fail to understand that it's not by copying Man.city and buying the whole 11. Most of the time, what you are looking for is right in front of you…….. someone tell that to Perez, Valdano and Mourinho.

    Excellent Article.

  2. marc says:

    Excellent piece, Elisa! Don't have anything to add to Raphael's comments, well said.

  3. Thanks guys. Did you recognize who is in the photo there? Juanin Mata and Borja Valero LOL. Raph the cantera had more chances prior to FP. That said yes the Zidanes and Pavones FP model did "attempt" to promote the youth team. But honestly, it backfired and made a mockery of the cantera, IMO.

  4. Ronnie says:

    i hope that Real Madrid will give Pepe the break that he deserves and the salary that is commensurate to his contribution for the success of the club.

  5. Elisa says:

    What does Pepe have to do with la fabrica?

  6. Eduard says:

    on top of the, I read an article on Marca(probably false) that Casillas is being stripped the capitans band

  7. MandoG says:

    Great comment Raph. Spot on.

  8. MandoG says:

    Not fake BS. It´s all over the radio, not just Marca. I think Mou was put back in his place. Remove Casillas and you remove yourself

  9. @arkulari says:

    We Spaniards are terribly defensive when it comes to Iker, he's so loved in the country, not only by Madridistas but by everyone and I think Mou saw that if he tried to pull that BS on the team everyone would be looking to have his guts for garters because you don't touch Casillas, you don't.

    Hell, even my independentist friends get angry if you talk badly about him.

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