Next Gen at Madrid
Next Gen at Madrid
May 12, 21
A rare case of a wonderkid actually coming good. The prodigious Norweigian burst onto the scene (maybe slightly prematurely) in2015, when he was signed by Madrid. After becoming the youngest ever player to feature for Real Madrid, coming on as a sub at 16 years and 157 days old, he’s been out on loan since at Heerenveen, Vitesse, Real Sociedad to firm up (which he steadily has).Now he’s back in the Los Merengues squad now with the bit between his teeth and something to prove.
A product of Barcelona’s La Masia academy, Kubo was impossibly touted as the “Japanese Messi” before making the sacrilege transfer to Real Madrid in 2019. Now on loan at Villarreal CF until the end of the season, the Japanese winger will be eager to impress in La Liga. His short stature, low center of gravity, and flair for the extravagant have turned heads and drawn comparisons to the world’s best, but time will tell if he can make his mark in these formative years.
The Brazilian opted to join Madrid in January 2020, with the likes of Barcelona and Manchester City both keen, joining fellow countrymen Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo under Zidane. The midfielder is not your typical Brazilian bag of tricks. With a strong physical presence at 6’2”, he’s more a specimen of power and pace combined with dexterity, similar to Kaká of yesteryear. Patience will be key in adapting Reinier to the discipline of European football -a far cry from the drum-banging and red flares of Flamengo.
Signed to Madrid’s B team in 2016, Valverde made his return from loan in 2019, and was definitively assigned to the first team. Considered one of the best up and coming box-to-box midfielders in the world, Valverde is compared to the likes of Paul Pogba for his creativity in the final third, and N’golo Kante for his defensive contribution. The Uruguayan’s presence as the engine of Madrid’s midfield alongside Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, and Isco has been vital, and his red card foul bringing down Álvaro Morata from a sure scoring chance at the end of the Supercopa made him a cult hero.
If Reinier didn’t fit the traditional Brazilian mold of football, Rodrygo surely does. Signed from Santos in 2018, he’s had numerous stand out moments, including a goal in the first minute of his debut against Osasuna and a hat-trick against Galatasaray in the Champions League last year. The tricky winger is a willing runner, and looks even more comfortable with the ball than without, skating tackles, turning on a sixpence, and bursting bravely into gaps with an eye for goal.
On loan at A.C. Milan from Madrid, Díaz began his club career at Manchester City. The forward’s slippery eel-like dribbling style is exciting to watch and has earned comparisons to Messi. Part of the reason his time in England wasn’t hugely successful is due to his fragility and response to contact at a slightly diminutive 5’7”. Perhaps other European leagues will prove a better fit for the promising midfielder.
Yet another Brazilian in Zidane’s ranks is Vinícius Júnior, who signed for the Spanish club giants in 2017 for a reported fee of €46 million, which was at the time, the second most expensive sale of a player in the history of Brazilian football, behind only Neymar. A stand out moment for the winger was his goal in March of this year against FC Barcelona in El Clásico. With electric pace, agility, and close control, Vinícius is a nimble winger who excites fans with his one-on-one dribbling, and generally exudes positivity with his play and is surely one to watch as he excels for club and country.