Is Mourinho correct in criticising Real Madrid’s youth set-up?

Mourinho Madrid

A Chelsea, QPR, and a former Liverpool player are among those to come out of Real Madrid's academy in recent years. But Jose Mourinho does not believe it is good enough.

Jose Mourinho has come under fire for largely ignoring Real Madrid’s youth academy. The Portuguese boss has admitted that he does not think that the quality is good enough to promote to first team action. Are the ‘Special One’s’ claims accurate?

Jose Mourinho has raised eyebrows in the Spanish Capital of late, for his decision to play centre midfielder Michael Essien at left back, rather than giving 22 year old Nacho Fernandez a chance.Madrid’s reserve team, Real Madrid Castilla, has been responsible for producing some of the clubs most loyal and adored stars of the past. Raul is perhaps the most celebrated of all, along with the likes of Guti, and current club captain Iker Casillas.

Yet, Mourinho claims, that for over a decade, Madrid’s youth academy have failed to produce players of enough quality to do a job for the senior team. Looking at the evidence there are reasons to believe that the ‘Special One’s’ statement may be mildly inaccurate. A cluster of players have gone on to suggest that they may have been good enough if given a chance:

Juan Mata

Mata finished as the second highest goal scorer for ‘Real Madrid B’ in 2006-07 with 10 goals. He moved to Valencia and was voted as the clubs ‘best young player’ on his debut season. The midfielder made a name for himself as one of the brightest young talents in Europe before moving to Chelsea for £23.5m. Since his move to Stamford Bridge he has been one of the most consistent performers, and his form this season has been phenomenal. Currently this campaign Mata has 7 goals in 13 games, including 8 assists.

Roberto Soldado

For Real’s B team Soldado had a record of 1 goal just under every 2 games. He was given only 16 appearances for the senior team before being given first team action for Osasuna and Getafe, where his strike rate was similar to that he achieved for the youth team. Now he plays for Valencia, has broken into the national set up and is often linked with a move back to the Bernabeu. He has scored 38 goals in 74 matches for Valencia.

Javi Garcia

The Spanish midfielder played 86 times for Catilla and was tipped for big things inMadrid’s first team. He was only given 3 appearances before being sold to Benfica for 7m Euro’s. In Portugal he flourished, attracting admiring glances from a number of Europe’s top clubs, including Madrid. Manchester City won the battle and signed him for £15.8m; he has scored 1 goal in 3 appearances.

Alvaro Arbeloa

The Spanish right back turned out 84 times for the youth side and earned 2 appearances in the senior team. Arbeloa was then sent in a large circle, via Deportivo La Coruna and Liverpool, before returning to Real’s first team fold. Since then he has made 88 appearances for the first team and is a key part of the Spanish national team.

Borja Valero

The midfielder played 76 times for the reserve team scoring 4 times. He made relatively unsuccessful moves to Mallorca and West Bromich Albion before regaining people’s attention at Villarreal. In the summer he signed for Italian outfit Fiorentina.

Esteban Granero

High hopes were expected of Granero when he played for Real’s B team alongside Juan Mata. He was expected to follow in the footsteps of Raul and Guti. Having made a total of 85 appearances for Real Madrid’s C and B teams he was sold to Getafe. After only one season Madrid exercised their buy-back clause and bought him back to the Bernabeu for 4m Euros. He played 67 times for the Spanish giants but did not impress sufficiently and was sold to Queens Park Rangers in the summer. In England the tidy midfielder has been one of the shining lights in a struggling team.

It’s hard to say whether any of the players above would walk into the Real Madrid team but, you have to say that Mata, Soldado and Garcia would certainly prove more than useful, as Arbeloa has since returning to the club.

Do you think Mourinho’s criticism of Madrid’s youth set-up is justified or is he only interested in his own short term success?

image: © apasciuto

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