Despite the fact that clubs like Real Madrid, Manchester United and even Barcelona spend millions of pounds on players, that doesn’t mean that they forget about one of the cornerstones of any football club – a solid youth system.
While Barcelona has their fabled La Masia, Real Madrid have their own youth academy which has produced brilliant players like Spanish great Raul, Esteban Cambiasso, Iker Casillas, Rafa Benitez and many more.
Called La Fabrica, which means ‘the factory’, the academy was created around 1942 and has since provided players for Real Madrid’s reserve team Real Madrid Castilla, which has slowly become one of the most successful reserve sides in Spanish football, having amassed more points in the Spanish second division than any other reserve side.
The youth academy system itself was established and developed in the ‘50s by former Real Madrid Aficionados player Miguel Malbo.
And since its inception in the 1950s, many players have progressed through the ranks of La Fabrica’s youth academy and some of the graduates have gone on to win numerous accolades for Real Madrid.
On that note, here are a few players in the Madrid academy who could make the switch to the senior team in the coming seasons.
#5 Diego Llorente
Real Madrid should be excited with the progress that the centre-back made last season during his loan spell at Rayo Vallecano, playing both as a centre back and in a more deep holding midfielder role.
His class on the ball, as well as his desire and courage (he once played with a broken nose) to win the ball back, were all on show. He made his debut for Real Madrid in Jose Mourinho’s last game as a manager and it was no surprise when he was loaned out to Rayo back then or even Malaga this season.
The 23-year-old is a fine passer from deep, capable of finding players 20 or even 30 yards ahead of him but his emphasis very much lies in protecting the defensive line and picking off set pieces, crosses and even dribbles into the area.
Llorente started 33 games at the Vallecas Stadium, and of the five he missed, two were due to suspension and two because he was contractually prevented from playing against Madrid. The versatile defender was one of Rayo's standout performers, which when Jemez's patented all-or-nothing playing style is taken into consideration, makes it that much more impressive.
His development in that role should impress Zidane especially since he gets a ready-made backup for Casemiro in the future.