Real Madrid is the most successful European football club and, perhaps, the world’s most prosperous side. However, most of their triumph can only be attributed to the incessant presence of top-class footballers within their squad and their consistency in keeping up with transfer market demands.
While the club’s academy, La Fábrica, is credited for the quality of alumni it has produced over the years, Real Madrid is not responsible for their fame.
Allow us to examine why this has come to be.
The Galacticos policy
Players who have often joined on record fees since the inception of club president, Florentino Perez’ Galatcticos policy in year 2000. Swooping for the most valuable players on the market had been the club’s transfer window objective for decades.
This is done for two reasons; economical relevance and winning consistency. The club’s ability to continuously turn over players without deformation has also been widely admired by their fellow top-spending clubs.
Nevertheless, paying little or no attention to home-grown talent has been the biggest weakness of this policy and since the early 2000s the club has continued to experience a declining amount of players in the Spanish national team.
While the club’s academy, La Fábrica, is popular for its production of top-class players like Raúl González, Iker Casillas, Álvaro Morata, Juan Mata, Diego López, Álvaro Arbeloa, Dani Parejo, Pablo Sarabia et cetera, only few of them have been successful at Real Madrid.
A report from Spanish press, MARCA revealed in 2020 that many La Fábrica graduates had to leave the Madrid system to succeed in professional football due to little or no belief in their attributes by the club, corroborated by limited amount of game time.
The youth system, Real Castilla has also groomed some bright talents over the years. However, many have failed to impact the senior team in the level they would expect. The likes of Martin Ødegaard, Brahim Díaz, Fernando Pacheco, Borja Mayoral, Jesé Rodríguez had little opportunities to prove themselves at the Spanish capital and hence exited on cheaper transfer deals bar Díaz, who is still a current player.
European football and supporters’ demands
Real Madrid three-peated the Champions league under club legend, Zinedine Zidane in 2016, 17, 18. A feat which could prove difficult for any other European club due to the constantly developing nature of football in the continent as well as the escalating congestion of match calendar.
This has resulted in football clubs seeking solutions to aid their combat against over reliance on few squad players which could threaten their title chances in the season’s long-run.
Like every other elite club, Real Madrid are frequently in the market to find supplement for already stabilised positions and having adopted an unorthodox winning formula, there is minimal level for manager experimentation at the club.
Unlike clubs like Ajax, Barcelona, Benfica, Chelsea and Arsenal whose managers are usually given time to work out their winning system, Real Madrid have set the temperature of their football to consistently resting on the apex level of the game and every employed manager is expected to thread in that line.
Painted as a club with no room for errors causing young players seeking experience to frequently leave on loan mostly before a subsequent transfer.
The sustained fate in Brazilian youth
Real Madrid’s newly found joy in the acquisition of South-American talents has further hampered the chances of La Fábrica graduates. Prodigies like Vinicius Junior, Éder Militão, Rodrygo, Endrick are the most recent set of Brazilians to switch to Los Blancos.
However, this trend had been existing since the late 90s through 2000s with the arrival of Roberto Carlos, Sávio Bortolini, Flávio Conceição, Ronaldo Nazário, Júlio Baptista, Robinho, Marcelo, Kaká, Carlos Casemiro and Danilo heightening the lists of Brazilians to wear the famous Los Blancos shirt.
Undoubtedly, their undying interest in pursuing talents in the Brazilian league or of South American roots further downgrades their valuation of La Fábrica. What this could mean theoretically is that, the feeder’s team is no option to consider should emergencies arise.
Realistically, La Fábrica is always an option as it graduates players into Real Castilla seasonally, Castilla is also a very successful youth team in Spain. Yet, with limited openings to take advantage of in the senior team, players tend to fight for fighting chances in clubs where it can be reasonably possible.
Real Madrid is the all-round embodiment of an elite club and with such an impeccable club structure, it could carry on for many years only that should it continue to underestimate its academy, La Fábrica could suffer from talents dispersal for many more years.