REAL MADRID YOUTH ACADEMY PLAYERS
Real Madrid’s academy is called La Fábrica (The Factory) for good reason. It’s produced a number of high-level players, more than you probably realise. Here are reports on its emerging generation. Each cover their backgrounds, styles, strengths and weaknesses.
You can find more in-depth player reports in the Scouted Football Handbook, our quarterly magazine in which we profile 25 of the world’s best up-and-coming talents, with additional original features and exclusive interviews included.
What is La Fábrica's philosophy?
Real Madrid’s academy combines home-grown, Madrid-based talent with the best recruits from elsewhere in Spain, from La Coruña to the Canaries.
Many of the great Real Madrid sides have included great academy players, like Iker Casillas and Raul González. La Fábrica’s constant conveyor belt of talent has been a key money generator as well, selling the sub-standard for fees to bring in other recruits.
What is La Fábrica's pathway?
Unsurprisngly, Real Madrid have strong teams at every underage level. They also have a B team, Real Madrid Castilla, that play to a relatively high level in the Spanish football pyramid.
Academy prospects often spend significant periods at Castilla before stepping up to the senior squad, preparing themselves for the reigours of senior football. An example? Álvaro Morata scored 40 goals in three Castilla seasons before becoming a regular first-team player.
Who are the best La Fábrica products?
Real Madrid have one of the most fruitful academies in European football. Its products permate almost every level of football in Spain, and they also play to strong levels elsewhere in Europe.
Beyond the obvious like Casilla and Raúl, there’s Juan Mata, Roberto Soldado, Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Reguilón, Dani Parejo, Marcos and Diego Llorente, even Saúl Ñíguez. It’s produced more prominent players than you’ve probably realised.
Which competitions does La Fábrica compete in?
Real Madrid Castilla typically play in the second and third divisions of the Spanish football system.
At underage levels, their under-19 sides (coloquially called Juvenil A) have won 10 league titles in the last 20 years. They also won the UEFA Youth League, for the first time, in the 2019/20 season.
Bruno Iglesias is one of the jewels of La Fábrica. Iglesias is an exceptionally technically gifted footballer in the mould of many Spanish attacking midfielders that have come before.
And his burgeoning reputation within the Real Madrid youth set-up comes for good reason, after stellar performances at Juvenil A level and in the UEFA Youth League.
STYLE OF PLAY
Bruno is at his best when playing through the middle. Picking up possession in traffic, he has incredible close control and is so silky as he weaves in and out of the congestion. If he does have to go shoulder to shoulder with a defender, he is fairly likely to lose possession – but that’s if they can catch him.
Time seems to stand still when Bruno gets the ball. He seems to be able to slow everything down, allowing him to funnel the ball through tiny corridors with little scoops, chips, flicks and regulation passes to create opportunities for his team-mates. At times, he can be a little careless and too direct in his attempts to progress possession against set blocks, especially when those tiny corridors become closed.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Bruno’s game is his really strong pressing game. He seems to approach pressing situations with really good body shape to force play into the right areas of the field to shrink the space and allow his team-mates to constrict the opponents ability to progress the ball.
Marvel’s youth career has been spent bouncing around Madrid. Starting with Real Madrid, he then found himself crossing the city divide to join rivals Atletico. After that, a stint at Rayo Vallecano followed, before he eventually returned to Real. Since then, he has rapidly moved up through La Fábrica, becoming a key performer at Juvenil A level with occasional opportunities in the Castilla team.
STYLE OF PLAY
Marvel is a big body that commands the defence expertly and instils confidence in the players around him.
While he ostensibly looks like the physical, hard-nosed type that looks to break up play early and step out to challenge for the ball, he is actually a clever covering defender that reads the game well and always seems to find himself in the right position to relieve the pressure on one of his team-mates. His recovery speed is another great asset in these situations, covering runs into the channels or even further out onto the wings.
Marvel is fairly impressive on the ball as a safe short passer, and also as a decently capable ball carrier into midfield. He could look to expand his game developing a better long range passing game to unlock an explosive player like Peter.
Defensively, he should look to become more dominant aerially in the same manner that he is duelling for the ball on the ground. He has some minor issues tracking and judging lofted balls into the box.
Calling Rafael Obrador a Real Madrid academy product might be a little bit of a stretch, considering he only arrived at the club in late 2020. Nonetheless, he has not taken long to become a key figure within La Fábrica. Obrador has actually played La Liga minutes too, a tiny cameo off the bench for Mallorca as a 16-year-old in July 2020.
STYLE OF PLAY
Obrador is a lot of fun. He is a classic wing-back that loves to bomb forward on the overlap and stretch defences.
The Real Madrid left-back is not just straight lines up and down the left flank though. He is a really good ball carrier into midfield, especially when he has space to drive into, and he can cover ground really quickly as he does that.
He has some pretty useful dribble moves operating in traffic too, especially when he is looking to beat his man to get a ball into the box. But he can be little bit careless with the ball when he needs to rely on close control to wiggle out of situations.
Defensively, he has a lot of potential given that he is pretty tall, especially for a full-back, but he lacks a bit of robustness shoulder to shoulder.
Peter Federico’s dominance at UEFA Youth League level in 2021/22 was to be expected. Playing as a top-age player in the competition has given him a physical edge where his explosiveness in transition is very evident. But he has also been one of Real Madrid Castilla’s leading performers in the Spanish third division.
STYLE OF PLAY
Peter is a delight to watch. He is explosive but technical, agile, and direct. His best moments undoubtedly come in transition. He is so difficult to defend one-on-one because he can beat his marker in either direction so rapidly with his deft changes of direction and lightning acceleration.
His trademark move is to cut inside after sitting very wide on the right and attacking the penalty area to try to shoot on his left. His shooting technique is very clean, but the predictability of this move means defences are often well set up to close angles and block his attempts.
Peter’s weakness is definitely defending against set defences, where his good decision-making, slalom dribbling and speed in transition are neutered. Teams will often try to double team him to prevent him from being able to stand his marker up one-on-one, though he is developing his combination game with one-twos and actually has a really nice passing range to switch play.
Iker Casillas and Raúl González are legendary Real Madrid players that were produced by the club’s academy, La Fábrica. Dani Carvajal was a stalwart in their great teams of the mid-2010s. Juan Mata, Álvaro Morata and Achraf Hakimi are also former Real Madrid academy players.
Real Madrid, as always, have a strong core of emerging young talent. Miguel Gutiérrez has played first-team minutes and Antonio Blanco will be a good La Liga player.