Real Madrid's lost generation: Odegaard, Ceballos, Achraf...
Odegaard is the latest in a line of young promising talents who have been forced to seek their fortune away from Real Madrid due to the lack of opportunity with the club.
Martin Odegaard reached the end of the line and ran out of patience with Real Madrid. The Norwegian cut short his loan term with Real Sociedad and his return to the Spanish capital before the 2020/21 season was a specific request from head coach Zinedine Zidane. The midfielder started in the first two games of the 2020/21 season and that was pretty much it. Injuries and covid impacted on any regularity until Real Madrid faced Celta at home on 2 January when the Norwegian was introduced with six minutes remaining. Odegaard was slow to track back as Celta pushed and Zidane was furious with the central player and this seemed to sentence the relationship between the two individuals. In the entire season, Odegaard played 367 minutes in nine league and Champions League fixtures.
At Arsenal, the Norwegian will partner with Dani Ceballos. The Andalusian was signed from Real Betis in the summer of 2017 and managed to play for just over 1,000 minutes under Zidane. When the French coach returned to the club in 2019, the player was loaned out to the Gunners. Luka Jovic is another classic case of a young talent that floundered at Real Madrid managing two goals in his 18 months in a white shirt. This contrasts with his three goals in two appearances from the bench since his return to Eintracht Frankfurt.
Odegaard, Ceballos and Jovic are far from isolated cases with eight other promising youngsters being forced to secure loan deals to advance their development and secure first team football.
Marcos Llorente: After a solid season with RM Castilla (2015-16), the player moved on loan to Alavés where he impressed at the Basque outfit. On his return to Real Madrid, he played in twenty games and was used sparingly during Lopetegui and Solari's time on the bench. He played just three games upon Zidane's return and after being told by the coach that he wasn't part of his plans, he secured a 40 million move to Atlético Madrid where he has established himself as a key player in Simeone's side.
Achraf: The Moroccan defender shone in his loan term with Borussia Dortmund and this was instrumental in the move to Serie A giants Inter last summer. The defender was not prepared to be considered as an understudy for Dani Carvajal despite the Spanish club telling the player that he would play a 'key role' at the LaLiga side ahead of the 20/21 season. With the player's insistence, Real Madrid then started to pay attention to the offers for his signature. Upon his departure, Zidane stated: "at this club there are both sporting and economic concerns".
Theo Hernández: Theo signed for Madrid from Atleti after an impressive loan season with Alavés with the player never adapting to what was demanded of him from Zidane. After a season on loan with Real Sociedad, the player moved to AC Milán in 2019 for a fee of 20 million euro where he has rediscovered his best form and his value has rocketed with transfer market specialists currently valuing the Frenchman at 50 million euro.
Vallejo: Signed after impressing for the Spain U-21 side, the Zaragoza born central defender was always up against stern competition to break into the Real Madrid first team with the likes of Ramos, Varane, Nacho and then Militao always ahead of him… The defender managed just 16 games under Zidane and is still a Real Madrid defender despite loan spells with Wolves and now Granada.
Kubo and Brahim are another pair of promising players who have had to look away from Real Madrid in order to secure regular playing time and grow as professionals. After impressing with Mallorca, the Japanese international struggled at Villarreal and is now with Getafe. Brahim is playing regularly with Serie A table toppers Milan and has played in 25 games this year for the Milanese giants bagging four goals and providing three assists.