Three youngsters pivotal to Real Madrid’s success this season
Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has quashed the unwillingness at the Bernabeu to trust the club’s younger players and academy graduates and there have been three youngsters pivotal to Real Madrid’s success this season.
In recent years under the likes of Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Rafa Benitez, club president Florentino Perez has continued to pay incredible amounts of money on talent from across the world.
Often these signings go on to become huge favourites in Spain. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are revered by Madrid’s fans; Nuri Sahin and Pedro Leon certainly were not. Even Kaka failed to make a big impact in Spain after his £56 million move from AC Milan in 2009.
Zidane has broken the mould of a typical Real Madrid manager by using the club’s young players in his spell as first-team manager so far.
Academy graduates such as Juan Mata, Alvaro Negredo and Jose Callejon have gone on to have successful careers in Spain and in Europe. It could be argued that Zidane’s predecessors missed a trick in letting them go, especially so cheaply.
This season, Zidane has thrown young players and academy graduates who have typically found themselves lacking first-team opportunities into the first-team fold.
As a result of the injury Ronaldo suffered at Euro 2016, Spain under-21 international Marco Asensio was handed his full debut in the UEFA Super Cup final against Sevilla in August, which Madrid won 3-2.
Asensio did not disappoint – he scored a tremendous 25-yard effort into the top corner to put Madrid 1-0 up in the first half.
He has since played 24 league games both on the left side of midfield and in a central midfield position in Zidane’s favoured 4-3-3 system, scoring eight goals including against Real Sociedad on his league debut.
In May 2016 he was called up to Spain’s senior squad after his fine performances whilst on loan at Espanyol last season.
Lucas Vasquez, like Asensio, played for Espanyol during a season-long loan spell. He also played in this season’s UEFA Super Cup final; he assisted Sergio Ramos’ last minute header that took the tie to extra-time.
Vasquez has played 22 times so far this season, predominantly on the right-wing during Bale’s long-term absence with an ankle injury.
At 25 Vasquez still has his peak years ahead of him, hence why he was given a new contract until 2021 last year. Bale’s suspension after being sent off against Las Palmas last week may allow him to start Madrid’s next league game against Real Betis and prove a point.
23-year-old striker Mariano Diaz is another player who has found chances to start for the first-team few and far between since the turn of the year. However, he has excelled when given the chance this season.
Last campaign he scored 27 goals in 33 games for Castilla, Real’s reserve side. Zidane promoted him to the first-team back in August, and he has since scored five goals in ten games including a hat-trick against Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa.Mariano (left) after scoring his third goal vs Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa. Source: Getty Images
Mariano, Asensio and Vasquez will all be looking to make an impact for Madrid from now until the end of the season, with Zidane’s side looking to win four trophies this campaign.