Best Academy Products: 10 greatest graduates of all time from Real Madrid
European giants Real Madrid have often been criticised for not utilising their academy players effectively. The discussion came to the fore after their arch rivals Barcelona thrived in the 21st century due to the brilliance of some of their academy players.Some of Real Madrid’s academy players like Alvaro Arbeloa and Dani Carvajal were sold before making an impression with the first team, but were brought back to the club as a first team player after successfully delivering with another club. A few like Roberto Soldado and Juanfran were unable to break into the first team, but went on to have great careers with other top European clubs. In contrast, there are also those who wrote their name into the Los Blancos folklore.As part of Sportskeeda’s Best Academy Products series here is a list of the 10 best players to have been schooled at the La Fabrica academy as it is known as.Read: Best Academy Products: 10 greatest graduates of all time from Manchester UnitedRead: Best Academy Products: 10 greatest graduates of all time from Barcelona's La Masia
#10 Juan Mata
Former Chelsea star and current Manchester United ace Juan Mata is a World Cup and European Championship winner with Spain and also a youth product of Real Madrid’s academy.
The Spaniard joined Real’s youth set up from Real Oviedo before going on to play for Real Madrid Castilla in 2006/07. He scored 10 goals during that season.
Despite an impressive season with the Castilla, Mata didn’t get a chance to play for the senior side and was transferred to Valencia in 2007 where he made a huge impact along with the likes of David Silva and David Villa.
After few impressive seasons with Valencia, Mata moved to England with Chelsea and was named as the Blues’ ‘Player of the Season’ in back to back seasons. The dimunitive Spaniard played a crucial role in helping them win the Champions League in 2012 and the Europa League in 2013. In fact it was Mata who assisted Didier Drogba’s late equaliser against Bayern in the 2012 CL final. When Mata left Chelsea to join Manchester United, he had 33 goals and 58 assists in his Chelsea career.
Mata’ success was down to his great vision, his dribbling abilities and his decent pace. In addition to this, his ability to play as an attacking midfielder or as a right winger proved to be very useful. Mata’s brilliant vision also means that he has a good assists record and he has so far racked up 68 assists in league games alone for Valencia, Chelsea and Manchester United. The 27 year old also has a good eye for goal and has 100 goals to his name across all competitions at club level.