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Forza Futbol

A Better Lens at Spanish Football



One of the best things about Spanish footy and what sets it apart is the cantera, the development of home grown talent and giving them an opportunity to grow and play in the in the third division, perhaps second division and the first team.  There are various reasons for the emphasis on canteranos, one is because of the philosophy of the club (see Athletic and Barca) or the attempt to have one style of play (see Barca or Villarreal), or to offset financial difficulties (see Sporting, Racing, Mallorca, Real Sociedad).

Of course the definition of what is a canterano is somewhat controversial.  Most people believe it is a player developed by the club between age of 15 and 21 and who remains at the club for a minimum of three years. So based on this general criteria I put together a list of players by club that are home grown or canteranos and played or have debuted in the first team.


ATHLETIC: Carlos Gurpegui, Andoni Iraola, Fernando Llorente, Markel Susaeta, Javi Martínez, Fernando Amorebieta, Borja Ekiza, Raúl Fernández, Ander Iturraspe, Iker Muniaín, Mikel San José, Aitor Fernández, Jon Aurtenetxe, Íñigo Pérez. Jonas Ramalho, and Íñigo Ruiz De Galarreta.

ATLÉTICO: Antonio López, Gabi, Mario Suárez, Álvaro Domínguez, Koke. Pedro Martín, and Saúl Ñíguez.

BARCELONA: Víctor Valdés, Andrés Iniesta, Pedro Rodríguez, Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernández, Carles Puyol, Gerard Piqué, Lionel Messi, Andreu Fontàs, Thiago Alcántara. Martín Montoya, Marc Bartra, Jonathan Dos Santos, Marc Muniesa, Sergi Roberto, and Cristian Tello.

BETIS: José Cañas, Isidoro Gómez, Álvaro Vadillo. Álex Martínez, and Súper.

ESPANYOL: Javi Márquez, Raúl Baena, Didac Vilà, Jordi Amat, Edgar Badía, and Álvaro Vázquez.



LEVANTE: Sergio Ballesteros, Juanfran García, Vicent Iborra. Marc Mateu, José Higón, and Iván López.

MÁLAGA: Jesús Gámez, Recio. Francisco Portillo, and Juanmi.

MALLORCA: Emilio Nsue, Josep Lluís Martí, Iván Ramis, Víctor Casadesus, Martí Crespí, Pau Cendrós, Kevin García, Yeray Gómez and Pedro Bigas.

OSASUNA: Raúl García, Patxi Puñal, Miguel Flaño, Ion Echaide, Kike Sola, Eneko Satrustegui and Roberto Torres.

RACING: Pedro Munitis, Gonzalo Colsa, Christian Fernández, Mario Fernández, Edu Bedía, José Picón, Osmar Barba, Álvaro González, Julián Luque, Jairo Samperio and Daniel Sotres.

RAYO: Míchel Sánchez, David Cobeño, Alejandro Arribas, and Diego Benito.

REAL MADRID: Iker Casillas, Antonio Adán, Alvaro Arbeloa, Esteban Granero, José Callejón and Tomás Mejías.

REAL SOCIEDAD: Joseba Llorente, Mikel González, Gorka Elustondo, David Zurutuza, Dani Estrada, Mikel Aranburu, Eñaut Zubikarai, Xabi Prieto, Markel Bergara, Imanol Agirretxe, Asier Illarramendi, Antoine Griezmann, Rubén Pardo and Toño Ramírez.

SEVILLA: José Antonio Reyes, Jesús Navas, Diego Perotti, Juan Cala, Antonio Luna, José Campaña, Dani Jiménez and Luis Alberto.

SPORTING: Adrián Colunga, Roberto Canella, Nacho Cases. Pedro Orfila, and Juan Muñiz.

VALENCIA: David Albelda, Vicente Guaita, Pablo Hernández. Paco Alcácer, and Juan Bernat.

VILLARREAL: Bruno Soriano, Mario Gaspar. Joselu, Kiko Olivas, and Diego Mariño.

ZARAGOZA: Ángel Lafita and Jorge Ortí.

Athletic and Barca continue to be the benchmark for the production, promotion and retention of players. Real Sociedad may surprise you has an amazing production line as well. In fact several of their players are youth international stars with La Rojita.  Both Racing and Mallorca use homegrown as a matter of finances and necessity.

It is admirable the amount of home grown talent who stay at their club.

It is also interesting to see that some of the players that have been developed, returned to their home club, see Pique, Reyes, Raul Garcia, Cesc, Gabi, Callejon, Arbeloa, Granero and Adrian Colunga.  It’s nice to know you can always go home.


Elisa On April - 9 - 2012
  • Guest

    Forgot Cesc Fabregas at Barcelona…

    • Elisa

      He was formed at Arsenal and never played for the first team at Barca.

  • Arkulari

    Great post! Osasuna has a famed cantera but they don’t seem to be able to hold on to their best players (Monreal, Azpilicueta, David López, etc), it’s a signature of the Basque country teams and most of the Segunda B and smaller clubs act as feeders for the three big ones, which is logical if the guys want to play la Liga.

    Javi Martínez is not an Athletic canterano, in fact he can’t even really be considered an Osasuna canterano since he played in a number of clubs (Logroñes, Arenas, Izarra) and only stayed in Pamplona for one season before Athletic bought him for 6 million euros.

    I don’t really know if you should count those who left and came back to the club, some made their names out of it like Fábregas or Granero.

    • Elisa

      But the criteria was debuting/playing for the first team between 15 and 21, and staying with the club for 3 years. I know the criteria is very subjective, but that is why I listed JaviMar with Athletic Club.

      Thanks for the kudos. Yes Osasuna is clearly a feeder club which is sad.

      Yes I was torn about listing those who left and came back. I got strong armed by a Madridista to add back Arbeloa and Granero. :-)

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