Real Madrid: 5 long-running problems the club must address this year

Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Luka Jovic
Real Madrid, Luka Jovic (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

A better focus on actually developing youth

Real Madrid have the most exciting collection of young talent in European football. Loanees Takefusa Kubo, Reinier Jesus, and Brahim Diaz have legitimate world-class potential. Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes are even more promising first-team players. And then in Castilla, Sergio Arribas and Antonio Blanco are regulars on “best of” lists for young players.

Florentino Perez has focused on signing young players as investments in the hopes that they will one day become among the world’s best. In 2019, he signed Eden Hazard from Chelsea, but he also signed a few young standouts. Ferland Mendy from Lyon, FC Porto’s Eder Militao, Luka Jovic, and Rodrygo were all signed. Out of those four, Mendy is the only regular starter. Rodrygo is doing well, but Militao and Jovic seldom play and may even be on the way out.

It’s not just first-team players like Jovic and Mendy who get bought for big fees and then have their careers derailed by sitting on the bench. Real Madrid have done a poor job when it comes to finding suitable destinations for most of their loanees. Kubo and Reinier’s loans have been so sub-standard that they may be headed elsewhere. Their best loan assignment, Brahim, is 14th on Milan in minutes played in Serie A this season with one goal and one assist.

Real Madrid are living off the reputation of Martin Odegaard’s loans in the Netherlands and then to Real Sociedad last season. As a whole, they are not doing a great job of getting a return on investment on all of their young talent and developing those players. I have to be honest here, it seems like they just hoarded a bunch of young players without any care for how to help them. And you know who else did that and it led to young players declining their offers? FC Barcelona.

That’s my final warning shot on this subject. If Real don’t shape up, future young stars will simply go elsewhere. The solution isn’t to play guys who aren’t good enough in the first team but to either not sign them in the first place or loan them to smaller clubs where they will play. It is better to underestimate a young player and loan them somewhere smaller than to throw them in the deep end and watch their confidence suffer or their minutes dwindle. Or worse yet, both!