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Real Madrid: U-23 contingent underlines transfer-market focus

If Donny van de Beek joins from Ajax, the midfielder will become the 11th player aged 23 or under in the Real Madrid squad.

Real Madrid: U-23 contingent underlines transfer-market focus
JESUS ALVAREZ ORIHUELA

The signing of Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek would further underline Real Madrid's focus on circumventing the transfer-market inflation of recent times by snapping up young talent and seeking to develop it in-house.

Van de Beek would be 11th under-23 player in Real Madrid squad

Were the 22-year-old Dutch international to move to the Bernabéu, he would become the 11th player aged 23 or under in Los Blancos' squad - an admittedly bloated group which is due to be trimmed down from its current 28-man size.

As things stand, there are 10 under-23 players in the Madrid squad (of which no fewer than eight are 21 or below): Andriy Lunin (20), Álvaro Odriozola (23), Éder Militao (21), Federico Valverde (21), Vinicius (19), Rodrygo (18), Marco Asensio (23), Brahim Díaz (20), Luka Jovic (21) and Takefusa Kubo (18).

Lunin set for loan; Kubo, Rodrygo to straddle first/second-team divide

Although Madrid are still to offload players before the end of the transfer window, goalkeeper Lunin is the only member of this crop of youngsters who is in line to leave. In the wake of Keylor Navas' decision to stay and fight Thibaut Courtois for the gloves, the Ukrainian is likely to be sent out on a season-long loan, with Leganés and Real Valladolid interested in securing his services.

Meanwhile, Kubo's status looks like being something of a grey area: although he is officially set to be a member of the Castilla squad, he is to train regularly with the seniors and will be well placed to be drafted into first-team action, as Vinicius was last term. Rodrygo may well be handed a similar brief.

The purchase of Van de Beek would signal the continuation of a policy that has cut transfer costs at Real Madrid, but has also served to reduce the experience in Zinedine Zidane's squad, a shortcoming that can have a significant impact in top-level environments such as the final stages of the Champions League.