Real Madrid: Castilla's key role in LaLiga club's transfer-policy shift
The role of Real Madrid's 'B' team, Castilla, has taken on a new dimension amid Los Blancos' changing transfer-market strategy of recent years.
Real Madrid's 'B' team, Castilla, has taken on an increasingly important role in the development of the young talent at the club, becoming a side that not only houses the players coming up through the ranks of Los Blancos' youth academy, but also those brought to the Bernabéu as part of the Spaniards' shift in transfer strategy.
The rising inflation in the transfer market of today has made the price of buying world football's stand-out established stars ever more prohibitive, so aside from the odd exception, Madrid's former policy of making 'galáctico' signings such as Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaká has given way to one of snapping up the globe's top prospects for the future.
Castilla the ideal initial environment for arriving starlets
However, signing up youngsters short on elite experience generally means they need to carry on learning their trade after their arrival - and that's where Castilla come in. Madrid use the team as an environment in which the players can develop further, get to know the club, learn the language and get used to life in Spain.
Prime examples of this strategy are 45m-euro summer recruit Rodrygo, who has been registered as a Castilla player this term, and fellow Brazilian Vinicius, who started out in the side after joining from Flamengo a year ago, before being called up to the seniors after Santi Solari's appointment as Madrid coach. Even if they are soon promoted to the first team or loaned out, they all spend some time with Castilla.
Midfield linchpin Casemiro also a similar case
It's a policy that has particularly established itself in the last couple of seasons, but does in fact go back a little longer than that. Uruguay midfielder Federico Valverde was bought from Peñarol three summers ago and spent the following campaign with Castilla, while Norwegian wonderkid Martin Odegaard did likewise from early 2015 to late 2016, before being loaned out to the Netherlands.
The likes of Philipp Lienhart, Abner and Eero Markkanen, who all arrived in 2014, are other young signings who, although their careers at Madrid did not work out, were added to the Castilla squad with a view to making the step-up to the first team.
And the most successful signing of this kind dates back to 2012/13: midfielder Casemiro, who made 15 appearances for Castilla after being acquired on an initial loan from Sao Paulo, and has since become an integral part of the senior side.