Real Madrid, fresh off a scintillating season, are fortunate in that they have a squad packed with quality, at a both tender and experienced age. Improvements still need to be made however, and José Mourinho hasn’t achieved what he has to this day by standing still. That’s why this summer when stepping into the market for a right-back, it will be essential he chooses the correct option.
Instead of looking to Europe or South America, it will be of great pleasure to Mourinho and his staff the solution is under their very noses. The solution is Daniel Carvajal, leader of the newly-promoted Real Madrid Castilla.
In Castilla’s promotion charge three men have taken the limelight – Joselu, Álvaro Morata and Jesé Rodríguez. Typically so the trio are attacking players; that’s no surprise however as after all ‘mini-Madrid’ ended the season with a record goal haul. Many of those attacks that have ended in emphatic manner were started in a similar one, by Carvajal. He’s the man who galloped forward with aplomb in a confident, skilful, pacey and technically gifted verse. His crossing ability is excellent, be it from a dead ball or with the ball in motion, while his weaker combination play is improving all the time.
As is often the case of such eulogising over an attackingly competent full-back, a common response is to question whether there is the defensive acumen to compliment it. Carvajal certainly has that in abundance, and if anything the most admirable trait of the 20-year-old is the acknowledgement of balance within his game. As they say at Madrid’s youth level to every full-back: “Defend like Chendo and attack like Quique [Sánchez-Flores]”.
Positionally he’s grown in stature, especially so over the last season when he’s found more responsibility with the vice-captain’s role instructing others while leading by fine example.
Whereas at Juvenil and Cadete level the instances of being drawn to the ball and being unaware of the movement around you is forgivable, at Castilla there is little room for incompetence of this nature. In the push for promotion he’s been a strong figure, both solid and consistent across the course of the season. A regular, he’s been reliable and unwilling to given up an inch for the team.
Carvajal holds Michel Salgado as his idol, an accomplished right back who went to the wall every week in his playing career. Be it at first when he was with Celta, or then of course in the spotlight with Madrid. “From childhood I watched on at Salgado. He is a reference for me. Consistent, strong and fighting for the ball until the end”.
It’s the battling qualities that Carvajal will need to draw on as the summer window swings open. Madrid are being linked daily with the likes of Maicon, Lucas Pizceck and Branislav Ivanovic; players of far greater stature than the young canterano. If anything Carvajal should’ve been handed more of an opportunity this season; dead rubber games past him by while there weren’t as many jaunts with the first team to recall. Those in charge insisted he must remain with Castilla until their objectives have been completed, and now they have it represents a key juncture in his young career.
He needn’t look to DVD’s of Salgado for strength however, that’s because he has enough ability now to win this battle on his own – and if he does it will be of merit. When Álvaro Arbeloa looks over his shoulder next season, it’s only right he looks into the eyes of Carvajal.
UPDATE: Carvajal signed for Bayer Leverkusen on five-year deal and once again, another product of La Fabrica has been pushed out the door. With the sale of Carvajal to Bayer it raises many questions about what in the eyes of Madrid’s senior staff is considered as being sufficient for promotion to the first team. This obsession with sending players out with the potential of having them return is obscene, and where it can be acceptable in a few cases that of Carvajal makes no sense. To regular watchers of Castilla, he has offered the most consistency out of every player in the promotion winning side – yes, this also includes the strikers so for a second put away the statistics and analyse the performance of Carvajal. He has never spoke out of turn nor even implied he deserves recognition and his attitude has been that of working hard, retaining a high level of performance and focusing on helping the team get promoted.
The player is making the correct move for his career; the club however are choosing to overlook the finest talent they have at this pivotal moment. Irrelevant of a buy-back clause, will there really be a better time to promote a player in a position that is actively being re-addressed in the summer window. Madrid’s cantera is often critcised and often it’s wrongly so, but in this instance there is no defence. What is the point in the cantera if it isn’t used in conjunction within the club playing system? Or maybe I am wrong, and there is a relationship but one of pure financial gain in the short term.
This is not about comparisons with another cantera that is often THE stick used to beat Madrid with, it’s entirely an individual matter. Auf Wiedersehen Dani.