Cantera Profile: Racing Santander’s bright young hopes in dark times

Let’s face it, this season has been an absolute disaster for Racing Santander. On the field their football has been atrocious, and off it their owner has vanished off the face of the earth. There is more too. However, there is a positive. It’s something every club in Spain has and over the next few years it will become an even more predominant feature in the wake of financial implosion. It is of course, the cantera.

It so happens, that Racing’s is quite good too. Sergio Canales was one of the most recent to come through. Miguel Ángel Sainz-Maza was another snapped up, heading to Barcelona. Now though, the Cantabrian outfit must to do everything they can to keep hold of their most prized talents. Here are five to watch out for, some have already graced the first team.

Álvaro González (LB/CB)

The 22-year-old has been an ever-present this term in defence, and he’s shown the versatility to operate at both left-back and centre-back. Despite their relegation, Álvaro’s been a standout performer and has weighed in with some timely blocks and clearances. He’s also extremely assertive when it comes to holding his defensive line, though when moving out of defence with the ball he could use some work. This season has been an excellent learning curve though, both in game and mentally off the field. Interest for him has come from both in Spain and abroad, so they’ll do well to keep him. Sevilla made one offer but were turned down and could come back again. It will be interesting to see how Álvaro does in a team with a different perspective.

Jairo – LW/RW/AMC

Without doubt the player who has shone the brightest when featuring for the first team. If it wasn’t for injuries and the managerial changes he no doubt would’ve featured more, but when he has made an appearance he has offered glimpses of what Racing were missing all season. His close control, pace, confidence and direct running have caused full-backs many a problem when he’s been asked to impact upon a game. He appears most comfortable in a wide left role, but has also featured on the right side. In the final third he can go either of two ways, showing his ability to take an opponent and drive into the penalty area or play in a teammate with a key pass. Physically too, he’s well advanced for someone his age and shows the ability to balance his body and ease of challenges. The 18 year-old is set to form a vital part of Racing’s campaign in the Segunda División and there will be plenty of onlookers. Valencia, Real Betis and Arsenal have already taken a look this season, with the latter present for his last two appearances.

Quique Rivero – CM

A smooth operator in central midfield, who despite his lack of pace has wonderful technical attributes. He sits in the double pivot distributing the ball opening the channels up with his is excellent vision, and helping retain possession with passes over short distances. He’s similar in a sense to Javi Márquez of Espanyol, in that he can move between defence and attack elegantly providing an extra body. Racing’s passing completion and possession stats were an embarrassment this season, and a player of Rivero’s make-up is the sort to address the issue.

Julián Luque RW/ST

Like Jairo, another winger though with more ability to play as a striker looking to get in behind the opposition defence. Luque, with his slight physique, has an agile nature which can help him evade opponents with sharp changes of pace and close control. He also has a fine work ethic, showing he can hustle and press on lost causes to provide a threat offensively. His size can be a deficiency though, he’s often bundled off the ball and it will be an aspect of his game he’ll need to work on in a physically demanding Segunda División.

Jaime Isuardi – ST

Still only 20 years old, the story could’ve been so different for Isuardi. At an early age he was noted as an outstanding prospect, but unfortunately he was hit with an ACL injury that ruled him out for a considerable period. The catch? He was just 12 years-old at the time. It wasn’t until he was 16 years old that he could actually be operated on due to his bone structure. A difficult rehabilitation period followed and Isuardi watched his former teammates turn out week after week while he continued to miss out. He finally returned though, and this season he has hit the Tercera División heights with 16 goals. His cites Carlos Tevez as his idol, and Isuardi approaches the game with a similar tenacious aspect to the Manchester City man. The youngster works best when operating on the shoulder of the last defender looking to tear away with pace and clever change of direction. Although the injury set him back, he’s eager to make up for lost time and it shows with on-field attitude.