Another season and another catalogue of disappointments. Real Madrid C.F. is fast resembling a Ferrari without an engine:it looks good on the surface but it won’t be getting you very far, regardless of how synonymous it is with success. This campaign has yielded a solitary trophy for Los Blancos yet the squad is collectively worth more than any other and, while the president’s proposal will likely be the costly recruitment of talent from elsewhere, perhaps the source of a renaissance can be found from within. Such an approach has served a certain Catalan outfit well and, with Real Madrid Castilla on the ascent for the first time in years, there may be a viable opportunity for the club to finally reap what it sows.
The trouble is that in recent years, Florentino Pérez, presiding over all matters Real Madrid orientated, has been something of a rogue wheel in this particular vehicle, considering his affinity for purchasing anything with a slick hairstyle and Champions League medal. However, his weariness of Castilla’s academy credentials may be warranted. The team hasn’t played in the Segunda División since being relegated in 2007 before subsequently toiling in the Segunda División B with little hope of promotion(07/08 – 5th place, 08/09 – 6th place, 09/10 – 8th place).
Moreover, the current Real Madrid first team features but one youth system graduate in Iker Casillas who, as captain, is accompanied by a cast of extortionate outsiders. In this respect, Real Madrid Castilla’s paltry return pales in comparison to Barcelona B’s never-ending parade of ingenuity. Indeed, Barcelona’s prolonged prosperity has been the product of some sage investment in youth. Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, et al were all nurtured at the club as aspiring superstars, and have all since been paramount to the first team’s subsequent triumphs. Even Pep Guardiola’s formative years were spent within the club as coach of Barcelona B who, it may be noted, cultivated Europe’s best starlets at a time when they were still playing in the Segunda División B.
So where are the Madrid counterparts? Poised for promotion to the Segunda División for the first time in 4 years as it transpires. Yes, it would seem that Real Madrid Castilla are set to rediscover their more prosperous times of the 80s wherein they won their sole Segunda División title, reached a Copa del Rey final and participated in 4 semi-finals of said competition. They are currently placed 3rd in the table and have accumulated some 70 points with 73 goals in 37 games, rendering them the most prolific scorers in the league, more so even than Guadalajara and Lugo in second and first place respectively.
Notable contributors to this improved scenario have been the squad’s top scorers in José Luís Sanmartín Mato (with moniker Joselu) with 14 league goals in 33 appearances and 18 year old Álvaro Morata with an impressive 14 league goals in a mere 24 appearances. The latter recently attracted the interest of Chelsea and, in truth, he may be well advised to head ashore before he grows exasperated by the ever elusive promotion to Real Madrid’s first team. And it will be another opportunity missed by Real Madrid whilst they were playing suitor to the hottest talent elsewhere, talent that may ultimately not adapt to Madrid quite so quickly (see Karim Benzema’s turbulent season).
As such, it is at this point where Real may find their pivot. An inherently flawed and introverted youth system is unlikely remedy their already dire financial predicament and, though the day of the Galácticos is firmly in the rear-view, it still seems peculiar that an institution so synonymous with success should be plagued by such a fundamental lack of depth. So, the leaf is waiting to be taken from Barcelona’s trophy laden book: make your own Galácticos. By any measure the principle isn’t exactly revolutionary. If you’re ordering in pizza every single night it might be wise to simply learn the recipe yourself and and save yourself some money. Yet, however simple the concept may be, it could just rejuvenate a club that, for some time now, has been spending like a Hilton sister on a bender, ultimately boasting more hangovers than championships.
In short, the road to that much sought after evergreen quality may be an arduous one but the erstwhile kings of European football might need to embark on it sooner rather than later. Certainly this may involve abandoning their once endorsed policy of assembling a team with money rather than cultivating a squad with time but the unfamiliar terrain of investing in youth may be less trophy barren path to take. And it seems that the personnel to do so may finally be at Real Madrid’s disposal but to travel such a road they must jump-start the engine of change. Let’s just hope for their sake that there’s an engine there to be started.