Real shift from recruiting galacticos to investing in stars of future

By Óscar Maya Belchí

Madrid, May 13 (EFE).- Real Madrid, who in years gone by focused on bringing ready-made elite talent – a collection of star players known as “galaticos” – have more recently shifted their recruitment towards attracting some of the world’s most promising young talent.

It is a risky approach, but one which is yielding results. The club invested a total of 126 million euro ($130m) in emerging players like Fede Valverde, Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo Goes and Eduardo Camavinga. Today, their market price has more than doubled, to 260 million euro, according to Transfermarkt.

The unprecedented success that Real have enjoyed in the past decade – winning four out of five Champions League titles, with a shot at another this month when they take on Liverpool in Paris – has not relied solely on massive expenditure, but on tracking the market to find raw talent at a good price that they can train into the stars of the present and future.

While 126 million on four players could never be considered peanuts, that is what Atletico Madrid paid Benfica to sign just one player in Joao Felix, while Barcelona splurged over 225 million (plus add-ons) on Ousmane Dembele and Phillipe Coutinho, neither of whom could be considered successes at Camp Nou.

Real’s spending is even more impressive compared to that of Paris Saint-Germain, whose pursuit of European glory – so far, in vain – has seen them fork over 145 million euro for Kylian Mbappé and a world record 222 million for Neymar.

Real Madrid has received, pending the final, €105.34 million for their Champions League run this season, which could rise by €4.5M should they lift what would be a record-extending 14th trophy, plus the €3.5M they would receive for participating in the European Super Cup in the summer.


Real Madrid has changed its transfer policy in recent years. The new economic conditions in world soccer mean that it is also looking at the grassroots to stay ahead of the competition. Brazil’s Reinier and Japan’s Takefusa Kubo, who are currently on loan at Borussia Dortmund and Mallorca, respectively, are other examples of market opportunities and intense scouting work by the Spanish capital club.

A clear example of this transformation is that of Valverde. Jorge Barrera, president of Uruguayan club Peñarol, explained to EFE in an interview in Miami in 2019 how Real’s signing of the Uruguayan represented a shift in their way of recruiting and managing talent.

“We are aware that we cannot compete with clubs like Real in terms of salaries. What we have to do is figure out ways to make significant profits or to have a percentage of future sales,” he said.

Valverde, Rodrygo and Vinicius all came through Real Madrid Castilla, Madrid’s B team, to gradually acclimate themselves to a club where the pressure is immense. It is the path to the first team that Casemiro followed. The Brazilian captain landed at Castilla, after a loan spell at Porto with Julen Lopetegui, before becoming an integral part of the first team during the past few years.

Boosting early recruitment of young talent, developing the stadium and consistent success on the pitch – with this year’s league title already bagged in addition to having reached the final of Champions League – is how Real Madrid is looking to remain on top. EFE


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