Real Madrid's youth system has generated €142.8 million in the last five years starting in 2013-14 when the club offloaded Jose Callejon to Napoli for €10 million. Since then 11 players have left the club where they were developed with Alvaro Morata's €80 million transfer to Chelsea this summer the apogee of the power of Real Madrid's cantera.
The amounts have steadily increased over the years with the last two seasons being particularly fruitful with Real Madrid receiving €131.5 million for eight players in that time, which is more than their two rivals in the selling of youth players. Barcelona has earned €17 million with the sales of Marc Bartra, Cristian Tello and Alen Halilovic and Atletico have added €73 by selling four players - Theo Hernandez, Oliver Torres, Borja Baston and Javier Manquillo.
The profitability of the youth setup is even more astounding when you consider how much is spent annually to run it; €20 million a year (€5 million for Real Madrid Castilla and €15 million for the other teams). This also includes the housing at Valdebebas, which was inaugurated in 2014, and allows players from outside Madrid to board in the city's suburban sports city. They house between 50 and 60 players there at a cost of around €33,000 per year. The money generated this summer alone could keep the academy running for five years.
That is not to say the cantera is solely a money-making project as several of the canteranos have made the step up to the first team. One third of the 2017-18 squad (eight players), have played in at least one of the youth teams including Kiko Casilla, Rubén Yáñez, Dani Carvajal, Nacho, Casemiro, Marcos Llorente, Lucas Vazquez and Borja Mayoral. They also help to bring the average age of the squad down to 24.7 years.
Even with the departures of Morata and Mariano Diaz, the number of La Fábrica players remains the same with the returns of Llorente and Mayoral from Alavés and Wolfsburg. In total, last season the former youth teamers contributed with 40 goals and 33 assists.
in addition, Madrid have found a winning formula to help propel these youngsters into the first team. Of the eight that are with Zidane this season, six have spent time away from the club to get experiences and play minutes. Only Nacho and Ruben Yañéz have ascended from the lower categories and straight into the first team squad. Three of those chose to stay in Spain with Casilla and Llorente and Vazquez while the other three took the chance to spend time abroad such as Carvajal, Casemiro and Mayoral.