Real Madrid's academy is widely regarded as one of the most incredible talent factories in European football. La Fabrica has done a great job in helping young players develop into stars who have gone on to play at the highest level of the sport across the world.
Some of La Fabrica's most notable alumni include club legends Raul Gonzalez, Emiliano Butragueno, Vicente del Bosque, Iker Casillas, and many other celebrated names from Real Madrid's glorious history. Several players from their current set-up are also proud graduates of the academy, including Nacho Fernandez, Lucas Vazquez, Dani Carvajal, and others.
The most recent academy star to make his senior bow for the club was highly-rated prospect Antonio Blanco, who debuted against Cadiz in LaLiga Santander on 21st April, 2021.
While many players have made a name for themselves at Real Madrid after coming up through the ranks of La Fabrica, others have had to move away from the Santiago Bernabeu for regular football at the highest level. On that note, here is a look at five players you probably didn't know were graduates of the Real Madrid's famous youth academy.
#5 Saul Niguez | Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid star Saul Niguez has established himself as a vital part of Diego Simeone's men over the last few years. Despite his issues at the club since the start of the ongoing campaign, Saul has been a great asset for Los Rojiblancos, appearing 330 times for Diego Simeone's side and playing across seven different positions at the club.
However, the Spanish international was once at Real Madrid's famous La Masia academy before moving to Atletico Madrid. Saul later revealed that he was relentlessly bullied during his short-lived spell with Los Blancos, due to which he chose to leave the club. He explained;
"A lot of things happened off the field. The sporting side went well but some things happened which shouldn't happen to a kid of 11, 12 years of age. I had my boots stolen, my food, I was punished for something I didn't do and I wasn't allowed at the training ground in Valdebebas for two weeks."
The 26-year-old won LaLiga, two UEFA Europa Leagues, and played in a Champions League final with Atleti, which they lost to his former club, Real Madrid.
#4 Juanfran | Free agent
Another player from Simeone's LaLiga-winning Atletico side in 2013/14, Juanfran made a name for himself as one of the most reliable full-backs in the world. During his prime, he was a player capable of covering the length of the pitch time and again, constantly providing an attacking outlet while defending resolutely as well.
Not many would know, however, that he was a graduate of Real Madrid's La Fabrica, and went on to make 11 appearances for the senior side during his time at the Bernabeu. In fact, Juanfran grew up playing as a winger and idolised Real Madrid legend, Luis Figo. It was primarily at Atletico Madrid that he went from being a wide midfielder to a full-back. He even remarked on the situation later, saying;
"What I thought at the time was that they must have trusted me and that they were rewarding me for being a hard-worker. I think everyone was surprised to see that I could play and perform at a high level as a full-back."
Juanfran made 355 appearances for Atleti before moving on to Sao Paulo. The veteran helped them to two Europa League titles, two Super Cups, a Copa del Rey, and an iconic LaLiga title win.