It’s no secret that Real Madrid’s famed academy consistently produces talent.
Some will be good enough to remain with the club’s first team, but most will join other teams around La Liga, and other leagues – providing Madrid with a consistent and yet organic income stream.
Another generation of vastly gifted footballers are currently being developed in La Fabrica, who will hope to climb up the ladder to one day play for Real Madrid Castilla, and later represent the first team.
And so I sat down with @FabricaMadrid from Twitter, to discuss some of the burning questions I had:
What have you thought of Raúl’s management so far?
“Raul’s arrival in Castilla was a cause for concern given that he had only coached a youth team from La Fábrica (the Cadete B-U15) and he also coached the Juvenil B from January 2018 after Alvaro Benito was fired. He was therefore a coach with little experience. His Castilla debut campaign was a bit complicated, the team took a little time to find their identity and the results have been inconsistent, particularly away from home where the team only won one match, against Celta Vigo B.
But gradually, the team has been getting up to speed and has played some very good games. Raul is a coach who lives the game a lot from the bench, he is very demonstrative and doesn’t hesitate to give his players instructions from the bench. He is also a very good manager who is highly respected by the players and he also has an aura. He is also a coach who is very strict, who insists on the small details and who asks his players to always give their best on the pitch, which Sergio Arribas – a Juvenil A player, indicated in his recent interview on Real Madrid TV. Tactically, Raul has used a 4-2-3-1 formation most of the time, with attacking full-backs who have to come in to double-up and stick to the touchline. As for the wingers, they have to get inside the game and combine with the axial players. He is a coach who likes his team to start from behind during the construction phases, he likes the possession game but his team was also capable of hurting on the counter-attack. Offensively, Castilla had a very good season, scoring 42 goals in 28 games – 1.5 goals per game. The problem was mostly in defence. Indeed, the team seemed feverish in this aspect of the game and notably conceded many goals due to lapses in concentration, poor positioning, individual errors. Castilla often struggled to defend in retreat and were struggling with defensive transitions.”
Is he tactically better than what Zinedine Zidane was, what differences are there between them?
“It’s hard to know if he is tactically better than Zidane. I’m waiting to see him in the coming season to be able to say more about him because it was his first experience as a coach and he didn’t have a full season because of Covid-19. But at times, his team developed some good football and he was able to make a few adjustments during the game to make his team better. Next season will be very interesting to follow: he will have an extremely talented group of youngsters to have a good season with Castilla.”
Who are your five standout players in the academy, from the bottom to Real Madrid Castilla?
“Without including Iker Gil, who is too young yet. Wow, it’s hard to pick just five, but I’d say the five outstanding players are: Israel Salazar, Miguel Gutierrez, Pablo Ramón, Bruno Iglesias and Antonio Blanco. But you could even add Ivan Morante to that list.”
Which players do you believe will succeed with the first team?
“It’s very hard to predict which players are going to succeed with the first team because there are so many factors that make this or that player make it to the first team but there are players who have the potential to be future players in the first team, if they’re given the chance. Among the five players I mentioned, honestly they all have a high enough ceiling to be able to play with the first team one day but let’s be realistic, they probably won’t all be there. So I think Ramón, Miguel and Blanco, if Zidane gives them a chance, are the ones who are well placed to reach the first team. As for Salazar, he has the potential to do it but I’m still waiting to see what he’ll do with Juvenil A (U19) next season and with Castilla in the years to come.”
Is Miguel Gutierrez better than Sergio Reguilon, and could he have a higher ceiling from what you’ve seen?
“Yes, for me Miguel has a higher ceiling than Reguilón. He has better offensive and organisational qualities than Reguilón. At the moment Reguilón is a better player but I think in the future Miguel will surpass him. He’s capable of doing everything on the pitch, good technical quality, good vision: he’s able to create chances for his team-mates and he’s intelligent defensively even if he can still improve in this area. He’s the kind of left-back who can do well at Real Madrid. Next season it will be very interesting to see how he does with Castilla (in Segunda B – Spain’s third division) but his ceiling is very high.”
Last time we saw a new Fabrica core, with the likes of Dani Carvajal, Nacho Fernandez, Lucas Vazquez etc etc, do you think Real Madrid needs to usher in a new era of Fabrica core players into the first team?
“Yes, totally. Real Madrid undoubtedly has one of the best academies in the world, there are a lot of talented players. In recent years, the club has tended to sell the majority of the Canteranos, which is understandable since the majority didn’t have the level to be in the first team. But at the moment there’s a very large generation of players who are coming in and performing very well in La Fábrica, both with Castilla and in the lower categories. With the context in which the club is this summer following the Covid-19 crisis, the club simply has to rely on some players from the academy to complete the professional squad in particular. For example, for the position of the ‘number six’, Casemiro played almost every game this season and it’s a miracle he didn’t get injured. This summer there won’t be any new arrivals, except for some loan returns, and I just wonder what the club would have to lose by promoting a player from the academy to allow Casemiro to rotate against the ‘smaller teams’?
We’re not talking about having a player as an unquestionable starter, but instead, it’s about giving him a few minutes. Blanco is a very talented midfielder who could be the answer to this for next season, given that there will be no arrivals. I hope during the pre-season Zidane will call on Blanco to see him on the pitch and then he can make a choice. But to not see him during pre-season would be a huge disappointment.”
Who would those players be in your opinion, which ones would you like to see play under Zidane?
“As I say, I’d like to see Blanco next season, and then in the upcoming years, Miguel and Ramón too. But if you ask me, I think Ramón would already do a good job as the first team’s fourth centre-back.”
Madrid have continued signing for the youth team this summer, which signings are you most impressed and excited by?
“The player I’m most looking forward to seeing is Izan Regueira (2006). He’s a left-footed midfielder with good vision and good passing skills. He can play as a pivot but also as a number eight, and they signed him from Celta Vigo.
Mario de Luis (2002), who is a goalkeeper. He’ll be very interesting to watch as well, he will be competing with Lucas Canizares for the Juvenil A (U19) starting position next season. He was at La Fabrica and returned this summer from Rayo Vallecano. He played games with the Rayo reserves and was even called up by the first team coach. He is considered one of the best goalkeepers of his generation.
Another one is Andrés Carmona (2003), who is an excellent central defender. I can’t wait to see him too. And finally Hugo Manero (2009), a left-winger signed from Real Zaragoza, who I consider to be the best incorporation with Izan, he will be very interesting to follow as well.”
If you had one player in La Fabrica right now, who you could see succeed in the first team, who would it be, and why?
“Right now, if there’s one player I’d like to see succeed in the first team, it would probably be Pablo Ramón. Because he’s clearly the most talented central defender in the academy, he’s one of the players who has impressed me the most. He has all the qualities that a modern central defender should have: solid in duels, good with the ball, very good anticipation and reading of the game.
I love his attitude on the pitch and he has an enormous character. He already had made his professional debut for Real Mallorca’s first team in the Copa Del Rey before signing for Madrid. The club has high hopes for him, and in my opinion, he already has the ability to be playing for a team in La Liga.”