Real Madrid is continually failing its wonderful young talents

Real Madrid, Peter Federico Gonzalez (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Peter Federico Gonzalez (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images) /

The alarm rings. The clock reads 6.30 am. It’s time to wake up and get ready for training. You get up, take a shower, eat a nice and healthy breakfast, and are raring to go and train. Before heading out, you watch a clip of Raul Gonzalez’s best goals for Real Madrid.

You have a big smile on your face. Someday, you think, you are also going to don the great white shirt of Real Madrid. Someday, you hope, you are also going to score some brilliant, match-winning goals like the legendary former No. 7 of Los Blancos did in his glory days.

You reach the training ground. It’s an incredible place, so much that just training there gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment. After all, this is Real Madrid we are talking about—arguably the greatest club of all time—and you have all the reasons in the world to be happy.

You train hard; you train smart. You make some incredible dribbles; you score some amazing goals. You know you are an indispensable player for your (youth) team.

You hear the chatters of the first-team manager having an eye out for you. And you also know that some Real Madrid fans rate your talent very highly. Your time will come soon, you believe.


Real Madrid, Antonio Blanco
Real Madrid, Antonio Blanco (Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images) /

Weeks pass by, months fly by. Your much-hyped call-up to the team, however, is yet to happen. And then, almost as though the Goddess of good fortune has smiled upon you, there is a COVID outbreak in the first-team and the manager has no choice but to call you up. He needs bodies on the bench but hopefully, you will get a few minutes to show what you are made of.

Then comes the match-day. You see the first-team manager preferring a high-profile but out-of-form player to play in your position, even though it is not his natural position—let alone the fact that he has not been in his best form for years now.

Okay, you think to yourself, you can still get some meaningful minutes in the end—but it doesn’t happen. The match ends with you being an unused sub. You are disappointed, but you are not disheartened just yet—after all, Real Madrid players are never supposed to give up.

Next match-day, you are called up again. You don’t expect to play but still have some hope. With just 15 minutes left to play, the manager signals you to get ready. You are in shock, complete disbelief. You freeze, then look back to see if he is signaling at your teammate.

But no, it is you. It is your time to shine. You are given a few minutes at the very end of the match. Not good enough, but still progress, still a chance to show your mettle at the highest stage.

You get ready to come on. You can feel the tingle down your spine. The gravity of the situation hasn’t quite hit you yet. You look around and find patches of fans amid a sea of empty seats—thanks to COVID—and even that is a bit daunting for you.

You are now playing for the first-team of Real freaking Madrid.

You take a deep breath and step onto the pitch.


Real Madrid, Sergio Arribas
Real Madrid, Sergio Arribas (Photo by Emmanuele Ciancaglini/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

It’s all gone now. You are no longer afraid.

You are playing at the Santiago Bernabeu. You are home. And the fans are your family; you draw courage and inspiration from them.

You receive the ball and touch it for the first time as a Real Madrid player. But you don’t find it any different than when you touched it in the youth division games. You make some nice dribbles, some slick moves and manage to feed an easy scoring chance to your teammate, who—unfortunately for you—could only muster a tame shot straight at the goalkeeper.

You are disappointed, so are the fans, but you—and they—know you did well in the minutes given to you. You now hope that this opens the door for you to start in the next game, which is a cup game against a lower division side.

Match-day arrives again. The press has released many reports claiming that the manager will start you. You are excited. Finally, a chance to play the whole 90 minutes. Finally, an opportunity to prove that you deserve to play for the greatest club in the history of Europe.

But then, reality strikes, the starting XI is announced and you are not in it.

Okay, you console yourself, maybe you get subbed in at half-time. But half-time comes and goes—and there is still no sign of you. To add salt on the wound, your teammates are not playing well at all, but even then, the manager doesn’t think to give you a chance.

Then, the referee whistles to signal the end of the match. You are still on the bench, unused the whole game, now wondering what you must do to win the faith of the manager. Despite the COVID outbreak, despite the injuries, despite the poor form of some star players, despite playing against a lower-division side in a cup competition, you are still not being considered.

You still are not good enough in his eyes.

And then, you have a crushing epiphany.

The last time a Real Madrid youth academy product became an important first-team player without having to go out on loan first to prove himself was… Iker Casillas.

About two decades. Even prior to you existing on this earth.

At any other club, even the ones in the top echelons of Europe like Madrid, you know you would have been given more chances to prove your worth. But not at Madrid, that’s not how it works there.

You can’t help but feel slight despair. You have now almost given up the idea of rising within the ranks and making a place in the team. You realise that the only way to become a regular at the Bernabeu is to perhaps go out on loan and prove yourself… but even that doesn’t often guarantee a place in the team, just ask Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Reguilon, or Marcos Llorente.

You then decide to do the unthinkable: you change your identity and join a club in Brazil and hope that you are lucky enough for the president to buy you for an exuberant amount of money.

That way, you are assured, you will get the chances that you deserve.


Real Madrid, Achraf Hakimi
Real Madrid, Achraf Hakimi (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid have already missed out on a few great academy products

While the story above may be satirical, it does shed some light on the way Los Blancos treat their youth products. Indeed, one can find a lot of parallels between Peter Federico’s (the main inspiration behind this piece) and Antonio Blanco’s journey with the club so far and the aforementioned piece of fiction.

Or could we even call it fiction?

Let’s do a bit of ‘where are they now’ on some of the finest La Fabrica products:

Marcos Llorente – Atletico Madrid

Achraf Hakimi – Inter, now PSG

Sergio Reguilon – Tottenham

And countless more, but these are the three players who had—and have—the ability to play for the Merengues but were instead sold to make a profit.

At this point, we—as Madridistas—need to ask ourselves: for whom does Real Madrid groom these youngsters? Are they just fodders that are fed so that they can be sold to the highest bidder or are they seen as the future of the club?

Another question to ask is: How does a youth player feel when he considers all of this? The likes of Peter, Blanco, Arribas, Marin, Marvel, Bruno… these are youngsters who have a lot of potential but it is highly unlikely that they will ever be able to show it for the Whites.

Imagine this: the greatest club of all time see potential in you and sign you as a kid. At that age, children have the biggest and wildest dreams but for you—the newly signed ‘canterano’—the wildest dream just became wilder.

You dream with your entire being about donning the first-team shirt of Los Blancos. You strive, drop every possible ounce of blood, sweat, and tears when you play in the youth leagues. It improves you, makes you among the very best young talents in the world.

In any other club, that should be enough to guarantee you a chance with the first-team but at Madrid, they sign someone else from outside and then sell you for the same price—or sometimes even less, but almost never more—to another club.

Atletico Madrid, Marcos Llorente (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Atletico Madrid, Marcos Llorente (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

This is exactly what happened with Sergio Reguilon with the arrival of Ferland Mendy and this is exactly what has been happening at this club for as long as one can remember.

At the end of the day, nothing is more demotivating for a youngster than when he realises that even his best doesn’t guarantee him a fair run with the first-team. Some players might break and never reach their best.

And even if they don’t break, only a very few end up working as hard as they did back in Madrid and keep up their form (one could make this argument about Reguilon now after looking at how he has played since joining Tottenham).

Next. The 5 players Real Madrid should have never sold. dark

Real Madrid might be the best club of all time but when it comes to grooming their own young products to play for the first-team, they perhaps rank among the very worst. With the rise of state-owned clubs, Madrid could do far worse than condition their youth players to become the stars of tomorrow—but at the Santiago Bernabeu.

And then, that kid from the story above could go on to be a Madrid legend.