When I look at this Real Madrid side I see some match-winner. Some veterans and legends graced the white shirt of Madrid in the best way possible. Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Toni Kross, Luka Modric, Karim Benzema; they are all faithful to Santiago Bernabéu. Their legacy will be immortal for years to come. They served in their ranks with utmost grace and still, they are not letting their old guard down. Marcelo is being pushed down the pecking order of Zinedine Zidane. Ferland Mendy is the new starter for Zidane’s Madrid. But the sheer passion and enthusiasm to earn back his spot at Madrid, Marcelo is sweating blood on the training ground. These commitments are not new for Real Madrid. You do not let your guard down or take things for granted if you wear the colors of Los Blancos.
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Time is cruel. No matter how hard you try, one day time will defeat you. Until then you fight. You fight till the lungs give up. You fight till your heart beats for Madridismo. The veterans of Madrid will slow down. You can not play forever. But if I am a Madrid fan, if I look into this side, do I see veterans slowing down only? Do I see old dogs leaving the heart of Madrid?
No, I don’t see that. I see passion. I see brilliance and discipline. I see some free spirits who are hungry and ready to take the muds for the crest.
If I fast forward to 5-6 years and look at the Real Madrid side, I see the mixture of veterans and players in their prime. Real Madrid has launched a very far fetched project at Santiago Bernabeu. They are playing the long game better than anyone else at the moment. This statement would become a fact when on the next transfer market they unleash their financial muscle and bid for the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Eduardo Camavinga, Erling Haaland, Upamecano and so many bright European talents. The streets say some of them are earmarked for Real Madrid. Like when Cristiano Ronaldo started showing his immense potential for Manchester United, he was earmarked to grace the ranks of Real Madrid someday in his career.
Real Madrid over the last two years has built a project that would serve them for the 5-6 years easily. Some of them have already established in the first team. These players will hold their heads high in the coming years undoubtedly.
Federico Valverde won the hearts of every Madridista in a very short period. He even earned the nickname of “El Pajarito” – The Bird, for his incredible dedication and performance. He is just 22 years old and already giving competition to Kross and Modric. He is destined to lead this Madrid side in years to come. He is a leader. He could take a bullet for the team. When he tackled Alvaro Morata in the Super Cup, 2019 in the dying minutes of the game and took a red card, he showed the character that Madrid demands. Madrid won the Super Cup and he was the hero. He said in an interview that he could run till his lungs collapse. He doesn’t care as long as he could win the game for Madrid. He deserves to lead this side.
The Brazilian Samba won’t be missed in Madrid. The brilliance of Florentino Perez and the ultimate scouting team of Real Madrid found Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes, who is just 20 and 19 years old respectively. Already an El Classico scorer and player who was instrumental for Madrid in their title-winning season 2019-20, Vinicius has marked his place in Madrid. Rodrygo already has a Champions League hat-trick in his name. Both of them are indispensable assets for Zinedine Zidane. Even though Vinicius is criticized for his indecisiveness in front of the goal after doing the hard work of being in the right position and right time; he is still very young. Rodryogo was criticized for his physicality last summer but he put on weight and doing the best he could on the field. If you look at the professionalism of these two at such a young age, you will know that they have been mentored by the best. They are being molded with such care and discipline that they are destined to fulfill their potential. Another bright young, Brazilian prospect currently on loan with Dortmund is 18 years old Reinier Jesus Carvalho. Madrid won’t be having trouble in their wings for years to come. It would depend a lot on how they are guided, how they are treated, and how well they are protected.
Never in my life, I thought Marcelo could be outshined by a 25 year old in such a short time. Ferland Mendy is a hungry and driven man. He puts himself on the field feeling like the best player in the world. Off the pitch, he is soft-spoken, shy, and a very reserved person. But on the field, he plays as he owns it. Madrid is yet to lose a game in the league when he started. He is offensively not as contributing as Marcelo in his prime, which is also ridiculous to even ask. But defensively he is a bull. The phenomenal defensive record of Madrid in their title-winning campaign must be credited to Mendy also. He plays like someone who has been there in the line up for a long time. He just oozes confidence. Real Madrid is probably looking at another Captain material in their ranks along with Valverde.
When Kross doesn’t play Madrid misses his tempo. Kross dictates the pace of the game. The 3 peat era of Madrid is often celebrated for the scintillating front three – BBC. But who dictated their pace? Who slowed down the pace of the game when needed? Who spearheaded the counter-press? Kross. he and Modric were the engines to the game. But when they will be gone who will take over the driver seat? Of course, Fede Valverde is one. But who else? It would be Martin Odegaard. The 21 years old Norwegian is highly regarded in LaLiga. In his loan spell at Real Sociedad, he showed his inherent quality of dictating the play. He debuted for Real Madrid at the age of 15. He is already with so much potential and experience. He could press, he could circulate the pace, he breaks defensive lines with one-twos and he is no way shy in front of goal. These qualities are synonymous with German sniper Kross. Those are some big shoes to fill but Martin never looked more ready.
The Japanese Messi, Takefuso Kubo is a La Masia graduate. His signing with Madrid is probably the most exciting prospect in the last year or two. He is currently with Villareal on a year loan. He showed his quality last year with Mallorca. He is a player who could play in midfield and even on the wings. Kubo can drift away from defenders like nothing. More than his technical ability, what impresses me the most is his discipline to the game and mentality. He lacks physicality but he doesn’t shy away to tackle and try as much as he could to win a loose ball. He was not shy when he was training for the first time with Madrid. He wanted the ball, he wanted to be involved. This is important. These characters define a player. He is a guy with personality.
In defense Real Madrid have Eder Militao from Brazil. He is yet to cement his place as a center back. But whenever Varane and Ramos get injured or suspended, he is picked ahead of Nacho. To bench an academy veteran just in your first year at Madrid, that’s quite something. Militao is supposed to be the direct replacement for Sergio Ramos in the backline. No one could deny the potential of Militao.
Casemiro and Dani Carvajal, are 28 years-old. These two are in their prime. They still have 4-5 years in their tank. They are well oiled and well-disciplined and hopefully, they will be the guard of these new bunch of Real Madrid Young stars. Even if Dani Carvajal could not continue, Real have another Spaniard to fill his place. He is none other than Champions League winning (with Bayern on loan) right-back Alvaro Odriozola. He is already the backup RB for Real Madrid. He impressed everyone in his short tenure already. He is offensively very strong. He still needs some defensive improvement. But no one can deny he is the worthy successor of Dani.
Thibaut Courtois is just 28 years old if you could believe it. He is in his prime years. He already proved himself in Atletico Madrid and also at Chelsea. Now he is probably the most valuable player in Madrid. He should be fine for another 4 to 5 years. If not, then Andriy Lunin is ready with his socks up.
Marco Asensio is just 24 years old and seems like he is with Madrid forever. He recently played his 100th LaLiga game. He is two times Champions League winner with Madrid and two times league winner. He even scored in the Champions League final. He will be one of those players who is just pleasing to watch. Every time he touches the ball, it feels like he will do something good. He recently recovered from his long term ACL injury. He is now first in the pecking order for Real. He is very disciplined one someone who is willing to listen to the coach and then improvement, not the other way around. He is humble and always try to play for the team. Once compared to Messi for his magical left foot, Asensio had an on and off career due to Injury. He didn't start for a very long time due to the like of Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez, who also plays in his position. But he is now ready. He looks mature and more of a team player now. Hope he could continue like this and lead Real Madrid for years to come.
Madrid has no shortage of Players. Their Academy looks good. The young team project is going smoothly under Raul. Even if Zidane fails to deliver they will immediately have a backup with Raul. They have the financial muscle to bring in galacticos like Eden Hazard from time to time. According to recent statistics, the Real Madrid academy has the highest number of graduates playing in the top leagues in Europe.They are already warming up the transfer of Mbappe. It’s safe to say they will produce Ballon D’Or winners in the future and add more Champions League to their tally.