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a new signing, a little rant & more

June 28, 2011

He’ll fit right in – he’s already got the poses down pat:  Madrid has formally announced the signing of their fourth fichaje for this upcoming season, French defender Raphaël Varane.  He traveled to Madrid yesterday to undergo his medical check-up, and to sign a six-year contract.  At around 15h, Varane, accompanied by his father Gaston and agent, arrived in Barajas, where he was greeted by the media and by Javier García Coll, the director of player services, who accompanied him throughout the day.  Varane didn’t say too much, just telling the reporters that he’s content and happy.  The first stop was the Clínica Sanitas-La Moraleja, where Varane was subject to medical tests, and of course posed – it’s become a Real Madrid tradition – at the doors of the clinic and on a hospital bed, shirtless and with a (double) thumbs-up.

After that, it was on to the Bernabéu, where FP and his board were waiting.  There, Varane signed a contract that will tie him to the club until 2017.  After all that was done, FP accompanied him down to the museum, acting as his particular tour guide in their walk-through.  And of course, Real Madrid’s site reported that “the French defender was impressed with how grand his new team is.”  Varane also received a congratulatory text message from José Mourinho, who is on vacation.  Varane flew back to France last night to continue his vacation.  Real Madrid reportedly paid Lens around €10 million to secure the rights to Varane.

Spot the footballer…

With this signing, Madrid now has five pure central defenders: Pepe, Carvalho, Albiol, Garay and Varane; Sergio Ramos can also play in this position.  This means that someone is on their way out, and the most likely candidate is Eze Garay.

By the way, Varane was all of five years old when Carvalho made his debut with Oporto.

Madrid has spent almost €176 million in 11 players for this position between FP’s first and second terms to varying degrees of success: Samuel (22), Woodgate (22), Ramos (31.3), Cannavaro (15), Heinze (12.5), Metzelder (free transfer), Pepe (30), Garay (10), Albiol (15), Carvalho (8), Varane (10).  And so far, we haven’t found anyone near the level of Fernando Hierro (both in terms of playing style and fan affection), though Marca – very prematurely in my opinion – calls Varane “the new Hierro” on their cover today.  FP was accused of neglecting the defense during his first term, and now it seems like he’s overdoing it, no?

September seems really far away:  Hamit Altintop underwent surgery for his back yesterday in Munich, and everything went “satisfactorily” according to Madrid.  He’ll be released from the hospital on Saturday, and he’s expected to be out about three months, meaning he’ll miss the pre-season, the first Liga matchdays and the Supercopa de España.

What about the adults?:  Real Madrid’s site had an article speaking about all the summer camps for children that our players have organized this summer.

On June 27, Iker’s football campus for kids aged six to 16 started in Madrid (Boadilla del Monte, Móstoles, Hortaleza and Vicálvaro) and Málaga, and will move on to Navalacruz (Ávila) later on in the summer.  Internationally, the campus has been and will be in Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico and China, and Iker has so far traveled to those in Mexico and Chile.  Iker’s been doing this since 2004, starting in Ávila and Madrid.  Raúl Albiol’s summer campus is in its fourth year in Vilamarxant (Valencia), and is aimed at children between the ages of five to 14.  It takes place from July 4-9.

Meanwhile, Esteban Granero and José Callejón are debuting their campuses this year.  El Pirata’s is fittingly called Los Piratas, and takes place in Valle de las Cañas in his hometown of Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid) for those aged six to 17.  José’s is also in his hometown, Motril (Granada), and each session lasts one week for children aged six to 14.  Both camps not only impart football skills, but also include a diverse range of activities and excursions.  It’s also the first year for Álvaro Arbeloa and Antonio Adán’s campuses.  The Campus Arbeloa for children aged six to 14 will be held in Tres Cantos (Madrid), with two sessions – July 4-15 and July 18-30.  Mejorada del Campo is the site of the Campus Antonio Adán, for children aged 6-16, and the two-week camp (July 11-25) includes a visit to the Bernabéu.

My little rant about the cantera and Madrid:  another article, this one from El Mundo, questioning why Madrid is looking overseas when there is plenty of talent at home.  Excerpts: “Raphaël Varane arrives 48 hours after the triumph of the Spanish U-21 team in the Eurocopa, and this once again shows how little Madrid’s dedication to their cantera is.  None of the U-21 champions – no starters, no substitutes – play for Madrid, and this is a “dysfunction,” the word FP used when announcing Valdano’s departure, for this club… it’s clear that there’s something lacking in the internal promotion system of the club.  The problem is with the club, which lacks the institutional stability for long-term planning.  Mou thinks in the present, because he lives in the present, but the club also needs people who will think about how Madrid will look in 10 years.”

I agree with this, because what kind of message are we sending to our canteranos?  Is it that no matter how much they shine with Castilla or Juvenil A or RMC, the club will look elsewhere to reinforce the first team?  Is it that in order to triumph, they have to do so outside of the only club most of them have ever known?  Is it a message of despair, in that there is only one player that came through the ranks who has a good chance of starting for Madrid next season?  All the other players who can be considered canteranos (with the exception of Adán) had to first leave in order to eventually return to Madrid’s first team, where they still don’t get much playing time.

Yes, Mou debuted 11 or so canteranos last season, but how many of them are going to get regular playing time this season?  My bet is none.  And despite the return of José Callejón, I’m seeing an experience for him much like the one Pedro León or Sergio Canales had last season – relegated to the bench (or the stands) and shopped out.  Madrid needs to give their canteranos a chance, at least.  Luis Milla, Spain’s U-21 coach and a former Madrid player, told COPE after La Rojita’s win in the Euro that “there are many footballers in the first division that come from Madrid’s cantera, but there’s a lack of continuity in terms of direction and coaching.  There’s no one idea that stands the test of time.”  He’s right.

One nice thing about the cantera:  those who were teammates in Madrid’s cantera have gone through good and bad moments together, and one of the results is lasting friendships.  Javi Balboa recently tweeted that he had lunch at the Asador Gaztelu in Madrid with his former Real Madrid B and C teammate Borja Valero and wife Rocío, which Borja re-tweeted.  I love finding out that these friendships last (Javi and Borja were teammates seven years ago), despite the many changes in teams and countries.

And a gratuitous picture of Sergio Canales to end:  Sergio C. tweeted this from his vacation in Marbella.  I wonder if he ran into Sergio Ramos?

31 Comments leave one →
  1. rina permalink
    June 28, 2011 12:16

    Una,can i ask u something>>
    Who’s the Twitter of Cristina (the gf of Canales(?

  2. June 28, 2011 12:37

    I completely agree with the article !

    • NeshaGurul permalink
      June 30, 2011 00:16

      I must say, I disagree.

      There is no present or future in modern football. Only right and wrong. If Mourinho, with all this control, does something right, we have something to build on. If not, we’re screwed.

      If people still believe that their is something called present and future, then they’re playing with themselves.

  3. amouria permalink
    June 28, 2011 12:55

    Thanks Una,
    Who should leave the position of central defense: I wish it is Albiol not Garay, for obvious reasons: Albiol proved his poor performance, especially in the classico, while Garay hasn’t had the chance to prove himself.

    For the issue of caring for homegrown players (Spanish mainly), I totally agree with you. This is something to be put on FP’s table (not Mou), after all, Mou is just a coach for the first team. He is not the strategic planner for the club.
    I understand the decision of Mou not being able to rely on the Castilla players because, after all, they failed to move from liga 3 to liga 2; an important criterion for seriousness.

    Any way, Real Madrid needs a lot of work and hopefully could be done given the optimistic report of our budget.. (our budget?? who am i to claim ownership? 🙂

    • danikoko permalink
      June 29, 2011 16:11

      its impractical to sell Albiol. There is a rule(4+4). Madrid MUST have at least 8 spanish players on the 25 man list.

  4. manie permalink
    June 28, 2011 13:23

    I fully agree with the articles you’ve posted recently from Marca and El Mundo. It’s really disappointing to see the high quality of the canteranos who have had to make their names elsewhere when they could have been integrated into the RM first team…and integrated more quickly at that. That’s why I didn’t want to see Varane, no matter how good he is – even if he is the “next Hierro” (which I doubt) – because I think we have a much better shot of finding the next great defender/fan favorite within our own system.

    The Luis Milla quote you posted – “there are many footballers in the first division that come from Madrid’s cantera, but there’s a lack of continuity in terms of direction and coaching. There’s no one idea that stands the test of time” – kind of says it all.

  5. cisarovna permalink
    June 28, 2011 13:43

    Love it when you rant. I learn more from you than I ever could from google. Hopefully things will start to change, but that remains to be seen.

  6. Jessie permalink
    June 28, 2011 15:00

    raphael is cute, he’ll fit in with all the other hotness at real madrid perfectly!

  7. Sarah, Madrid permalink
    June 28, 2011 17:22

    aha! Now I understand what Benz meant by he will take care of Varane, here we go first lessoN he gave him: HOW TO PERFECT a thumbs up! and looks like Benz is a good teacher, anyway Good luck Varane! wish him succes with us.

    Garay :(! no more bro-romance Higuain :(! Eze is really a great defender unfortunely just like Gago they carry on injuries BUT if he is to be sold, I hope it will be to a good club, he deserves it.

    About Canteranos! I think if De le red or Karanka to take after Mourinho we will see more Canteras, right now as you said Jose is more worried with immediate results, BUT who blame him because if he isn’t, he would be the first out of the door. Anyway, I still get hope that Jose might use Cantera, he spoke about Morata and Jesulu before, couple of games in Liga Jose or CDR! one or two PLEAAASE!

  8. Whiskey permalink
    June 28, 2011 20:31

    The new Hierro?? Jeez let’s not put any pressure on the kid before he even plays his first match for RM. Better footballing minds than mine are involved in these decisions, but I am really not sure I see a cohesive “plan” here. And Una I agree with you re the cantera – I found Milla’s comments very interesting.

  9. emily permalink
    June 28, 2011 21:09

    I echo your concerns, Una.
    The glaring lack of Blancos in the Rojita line up was remarked on even by the English commentators during the final. About a week and a half ago, I studied up on the numbers on La Rojita, and Barca’s youth system has a significant edge on all the others, with Athlietic Bilbao following close behind.
    This is not a good sign. The Madrid farm system is not producing a finished product, it would seem, otherwise, Mou would have jumped on them long ago. I think it is ok for the kids to go elsewhere, to come back eventually, but the lack of continuity to the first team and zero representation on the starting u21 is telling a rather grim tale about the future. I can imagine that the front office will start feeling even more heat from the socios/penas about the lack of Spanish/cantera recruitment. Stay tuned, kids…

  10. Alyssa permalink
    June 28, 2011 22:40

    About the canteranos, I couldn’t put it better myself. We have some AMAZING talent that we’re just ignoring. Also, there’s a spot in my heart that only belongs to Álvaro Morata and I’d love nothing more than to see him permanently with the first team.

  11. danikoko permalink
    June 28, 2011 23:15

    “Mou thinks in the present, because he lives in the present, but the club also needs people who will think about how Madrid will look in 10 years.”

    The above quote is fro, the article you posted. it makes no sense! if the article is trying to say Mou thinks in the present because he has not bought young SPANISH players, FINE! But to make that outrageous comment when the coach has brought in Ozil (22), Canales (19), Varane (18), Sahin (21)..just shows rthe silly propaganda of that article. How will Madrid look in 10 years? are Ozil, Sahin, Varane going to be retired in 10 yrs because they are foreigners? the article is an insult on our intelligence. If you are arguing under the umbrella of a nationalist, FINE! but dont insult our intelligence by telling us the club will fall apart because the current coach is not thinking of the future, when IN FACT, THE CURRENT COACH HAS DONE ALL HE CAN TO LOOK FOR THE BEST 17-21 YEAR OLDS IN THE WORLD TO MAKE SURE THE CLUB IS STILL THE BEST IN 10-15 YEARS TIME!

    Nacho (canterano) started in Valencia and the next game (cant remember the team madrid played). No one talks about that. It does not fit their agenda. Is Nacho better than Varane? with what i have seen, HE IS NOT! but if he can show he is better, why will the coach not choose him above Varane?

    Finally, Una, you spoke about pedro leon. What did Leon do to be chosen ahead of Di Maria or Ronaldo?? Did he out perform them and was still ignored? Did he do what his coach asked of him and was still ignored? did he show up to training on time? Did he act apprropriately in training? People may think Mou is the devil and Mou hates pedro leon for no reason, but we are not idiots. We have a brain. It is just not practical for a coach to ignore a player for simply no reason whatsoever!

    • danikoko permalink
      June 29, 2011 02:24

      hahahahaha I just saw the front page of Marca. Look like they read my rant above.

    • June 29, 2011 11:03

      I think you’re misinterpreting the article. It’s not so much commenting about the future in terms of the ages of the players, but rather the future of the club as a whole, with a youth system that will produce results in the future. Yes, Ozil, Sahin, Varane, Di María etc. will hopefully be around in 10 years time since they’re all young players, but if the club has to go out and buy the young players, instead of producing them internally, then there is a serious problem. You’re not seeing that the club is so much more than the first team. And you’re also overlooking the fact that it’s extremely important for Real Madrid to have home-grown players on their first team. It’s part of their identity. That’s why it’s so important for coaches and directors to have faith in the cantera, which is what we’re missing at the moment.

      And you can’t really compare Nacho and Varane, because Castilla plays in the third division, while Lens is in the first division, and they’re also different leagues at that. And how is Nacho supposed to prove anything when he doesn’t get any playing time? Yes, he did start against Valencia, but that was because the next game was the first leg of the Madrid-Barça Champions League semis and players were being rested. If you remember, Albiol and Garay also started that game, showing that it wasn’t the first priority.

      And what did I say about Pedro León that made you go off on a rant like that? The only time I mentioned him was to say that he spent a season on the bench and in the stands. I didn’t talk at all about whether that was deserved or not. It seems to be a real sore spot for you.

      • June 29, 2011 11:06

        P.S. Mou thinks about the present – and rightly so – because if he doesn’t produce immediate results, he’ll no longer have a job. That’s why the present is so much more important for him than the future. Mesut and Ángel were expected to make an immediate impact – they weren’t purchased for how they will play 10 years from now. The same will go for Sahin and Varane. There’s no learning curve because Madrid demands immediate results.

        • danikoko permalink
          June 29, 2011 16:22

          Actually, Mou himself said he never expected mesut to make an immediate impact. Those are Mou’s words. Mou was counting on Kaka.

      • danikoko permalink
        June 29, 2011 16:21

        Pedro Leon is on the stands/bench mostly for non-footballing reasons. The day he decided to misbehave was the day he ended his madrid career. Remember what Wesley Sneidjer said: “Once u cross Mou, its over, there is no coming back.”

        As for Varane, there is simply no player in Castilla at his level!

        – Alex Ferguson went out this year and bought kids (Smalling, Johnson, De Gea) and even fought and fought to by Varane. How come no one is attacking Fergie?

        – Arsenal went out and brought in 2 guys from Barcelona youth team, how come no one is attacking Wenger?

        – Barcelona are trying to get Kiko (Hercules) and Jose Angel (Sporting Gijon) how come no one is attacking Pep?

        But Mourinho is the devil and he is going oitside to look for young great talents rather than promote players who cant even gain promotion from Div 3. Mou now has control of the castilla. He will start bringing in young kids to play for castilla…he will watch them closely and if they are good, he will promkote them.

        Let me ask you a question, Una, do u honestly believe that Mou watchs castilla, sees a top talent and purposefully ignores that talent? what use would that be? how will that benefit him? @ Inter, Mou promoted Santon, Obi, Belec, Bolzoni, Khrin, (5 PLAYERS!); @ Madrid, so far Adan and mejias (this season) have been promoted. 2 players in 2 years.

        • June 29, 2011 16:42

          One. Why do you keep arguing about Pedro León? I merely stated a fact, not whether it was right or wrong. Please get over it.
          Two. I believe it’s hard to tell someone’s level when they’ve only played 20 or so games in the first division. And he played in France, which is very different than the Spanish league. And it will take him time to adjust.
          Three. Since Barcelona is the only team out of these three that can really be compared to Madrid in this argument as it’s also a Spanish club, it’s because Barcelona is full of home-grown talent – Xavi, Puyol, Busquets, Messi, etc. Madrid has one player who can be compared to them – Iker. No one is attacking Pep for not using his cantera because he has used it. A lot. He’s also a product of the system, so he knows perfectly well how it functions.
          Four. No one said Mourinho is the devil. You’re the only one that put “Mou” and “devil” in the same sentence. If anything, it’s FP’s doing. The article – if you take care to actually read it – doesn’t blame Mou for anything. And of course I don’t think Mou ignores talent from Castilla. But what’s the use of debuting so many players and then allowing them to go elsewhere or never play again? We’ve seen that strategy backfire – we had to re-purchase Callejón, there’s talk that we wanted Mata, Valero, Parejo, etc. back, there’s usually a clause saying our former players can’t play against us… The bottom line is that the cantera is very important to Madrid and it needs to be appreciated. After all, if it weren’t for that, we wouldn’t have the likes of Casillas, Raúl, Guti, Butragueño, Míchel, just to name a few. Imagine if no one had given them a chance. The cantera can’t and shouldn’t be neglected.

        • danikoko permalink
          June 30, 2011 07:38

          Una, ur points are well taken..just a few comments tho–

          – Mou is in comeplete charge of sporting side, its unfair to blame florentino

          – Pep has been with Barca for 3yrs (and more in la masia), Mou has been in madrid 1 yr

          – Pep did NOT promote Xavi, iniesta, Puyol, Pique, Messi, Valdez or Bojan. In 3 years, he has only promoted 4 players–Jeffren, FOntas, Pedro and Busquets. He prefers to spend 50m+ Eto’o on Ibrahimovic, 35m for Alves, 13m on Adriano, 20m on Mascherano, 5m on Maxwell, 40m on Villa, 17m for Caceres, 25m for Chygrinsky, 14m for Kerrison, 15m for hleb,10m for Henrique, 14m for Keita, Afellay. now, he wants to pay 30m for Rossi, 40m on Sanchez, 40m on Fabregas, 30m for Thiago Silva or David Luiz.

          – It just occurs to me that people do NOT even know why Mou debuts “lots of catilla players. Its actually as a “reward.” At the end of the season, he promotes those he feels can compete with the first team players and will contribute. HOWEVER, when he debuts a player, its a reward. He is trying to give that player a gift for doing very well in castilla. There was a video of it on Marca/AS, when Mou first arrived and had a meeting with castilla boys. he told them that he will “reward” them if they put in the hard work. That reward is a debut. He is NOT going to promote someone just for the sake of it, u need to show more OVER A WHOLE SEASON! be patient, in August, we will know who made the cut this year.

          – Sadly, mata, Parejo and Valero are not good enough to play for Madrid.They were all available and Mou did not consider them. he chose Callejon rather than Mata, chose Sahin rather than Parejo and team is working on another midfielder, rather than Valero. But I agree with you that the team should look within castilla…but I have seen Mou;s career and I can assure u, if a player deserves to be promoted, MOU WILL PROMOTE HIM, without hesitation!

  12. June 29, 2011 02:22

    spot the footballer, the tallest one there, no contest! I really hope to see more of Morata and Sarabia on the first team in the future, but it really doesn’t look likely. Also, el Pirata deserves more playing time than the little he is getting, but with the signing of Sahin I don’t know how likely that would be.

  13. Gabriela permalink
    June 29, 2011 15:32

    Una, do you have any news about us signing Neymar?
    The brazilian media is all over it, they say it’s a done deal, and Neymar will be staying with Santos until they play the Mundial in December, and then he’ll be off to Real Madrid.

    I hope it’s just the brazilian media being shity again, I hope you have some news about it ):

    • June 29, 2011 16:23

      There are a lot of rumors, and I prefer not to speculate on anything, so I won’t say anything about signings until they’re official.

  14. cisarovna permalink
    June 30, 2011 02:10

    Una, do you think it would make a big difference if the Castiila made it to the 2nd division? Would it be that different from the league they play in now in terms of gaining experience?

  15. June 30, 2011 02:20

    I loved the little rant, Una. A club loses it’s identity when it stops producing from within and looks outside only. If the club is unwilling to give a chance for the players that are talented (and yes, they are talented since clubs all over the world want them), then why have a youth setup at all? It costs the club millions every year to run the youth setups. Interestingly enough, its the department that makes them the most money. Negredo is a perfect example of that.

    Everyone is willing to give outsiders a chance before trusting or even giving those from within a chance. Nacho rocked the left back spot against the third best team in spain. The next game he did a really good job as well. Why is he not given a chance? Similar with Sarabia and Morata. And while its fun to say we debuted 11 canteranos, i don’t think Alex playing 3 minutes can be considered a debut really.

    Keep up the good work! I know how hard it is to write during the summer. So thanks for the constant posts 🙂

  16. Cathy permalink
    July 1, 2011 03:55

    In regards to your rant Una, I would like to share my perspective. I’m not a fan of RM but as an observer I see that what Madridistas demand is the impossible. You want trophies and if you don’t get them you sack your coach in the blink of an eye but at the same time you want Canteranos in the first team… can’t be both ways. Its one or the other. Whose to say if Mourinho promoted a few Canteranos that RM would win trophies? Who knows! The same goes if they would loose..nobody knows. What is wanted from RM is to take a chance and put trust into your youth system’s products but its not a guarantee that they will deliver.
    Now that Valdano is out and Mourinho is in full control, HE gets to decide who is promoted..NOT FP contrary to popular belief. FP knows nothing about tactics, formations, etc. He’s just a figurehead and not the coach so you can’t blame him for there being a lack of promotion from within. It’s common knowledge in the outside world that RM players are breed to be the best, sold, and with that profit RM get’s to buy their superstars for obscene amounts of money. That’s been the system for awhile, its nothing shouldn’t be a shock.
    Now look at other clubs: Take Arsenal for example, Wenger gambles on youth and they’ve been trophy less for 6 years so far….that is a possibility if you promote from within. Now look at Barcelona, they’ve had their dry spells here and there but since 2008 have manage to win 10 titles with 12 players from La Masia (and more incoming). That is another possibility for RM. What needs to be done is finding a balance..and the fans need to be realistic! Some times you loose and sometimes you win. At the end of the day you stand behind them no matter what.

    Finally…maybe the canteras products aren’t up to par with Madrid’s expectations in terms of what they look for in a player. We might watch TV and say “wow so and so is an awesome winger/lb/rb/cb/mf/or what ever” but we as spectators are not professional mangers like Mourinho. Maybe he sees something in a RM youth player that doesn’t go with his system and thats why they aren’t promoted. We do not know what is in the mind of Mourinho, we don’t know his likes and dislikes with skills, etc. There are reasons unknown to fans as to why certain decisions are made in teams we love.

    • danikoko permalink
      July 3, 2011 05:17

      Thank you! Especially ur last paragraph! its an insult to Mourinho, a man who has won it everywhere, for mere fans who know NOTHING about the game to question his decision, arrantly! Mou goes to Castilla games–there are pictures of him, so am not making it up! He sees the players and if he thinks they are not ready, who are you (the pres and fans) to force him to pick players that are not ready!???? Sarabia, Juanfran..e.t.c.. who are they going to replace? kaka? Ozil? Ronaldo? Di Maria? is it not interesting that Sarabia/Juanfran/Mateos are available and yet, only div. 2 zaragoza and almost relegated getafe want them? if they were so good, wouldnt the top teams be lining up for them? So in essense, they are not good enough for the Valencias of this world, but they should play for madrid because “oh! they play for Madrid youth team!” Its doesnt work that way. If they are good, they will play, simple as!

  17. Ros permalink
    July 1, 2011 22:23

    I know doesn’t always have the best reputation, but I was wondering what you thought of this article, especially as it relates to getting all these young players and promoting the youth team players.

  18. kiki permalink
    July 4, 2011 19:20

    The bottom line here, if we use logic and Not emotion is that – The CLUB must make the decision to improve the cohesion of vision and general level of the cantera, if we want to see many of our lads rise to the 1st team. This is especially true given Flo’s expectations and expectations of the fans for the 1st team. Individual special talents like Morata are noticed, hence the contract extension. But let’s be rational people, the cantera system has to become uniform and more effectively applied. It has not perhaps received proper attention from The Administration, before Mou ever arrived. This is the true issue.

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