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Real Madrid turn to their youth academy during the pandemic

Castilla players Antonio Blanco, Miguel Gutiérrez and Sergio Arribas are making their cases to graduate to Real Madrid's first team squad next season.

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Real Madrid must enter this summer's transfer market with the best economic resources possible - and if they are able to strengthen certain positions at zero cost, that would be a huge help. The club is looking to their youth academy La Fábrica to provide solutions. Antonio Blanco (20 years), Sergio Arribas (19) and Miguel Gutiérrez (19) have impressed when they have come into the side and all three are making a strong case to move up to the senior squad next season. Zidane is delighted with their performance levels,and also because they occupy positions which the coach has struggled to fill and where the club isn't planning to sign anyone in the next window. Zizou has been helping Gutiérrez with his development over the past 14 months and working with Blanco and Arribas for the past nine months. None of the three are viewed as players who have temporarily been drafted to fill in when necessary, the club and the coach are convinced that they have what it takes to make it in the first team.

As Diario AS recently reported, it has been decided that Gutiérrez will be the second choice at left-back if Marcelo leaves this summer, an option which appeals to the club as it would enable them to save the eight million euros which the Brazilian would otherwise earn in the final year of his contract. Blanco has come in to give the team fresh legs and allow Kroos and Modric, both suffering from accumulated fatigue, a chance to rest and recover. Madrid decision not to loan the midfielder out last summer has proved a good call. His emergence means that there is no immediate need to sign Camavinga, who Madrid cannot currently afford with their pursuit of Mbappé and Haaland underway. The French midfielder would cost Madrid 50 million euros at least while Blanco, a home-grown player comes at no cost. If Camavinga does end up leaving Rennes, he would to move to a club where he would earn a much bigger salary.

Los datos de Miguel Gutiérrez, Arribas y Antonio Blanco esta temporada en el Real Madrid.

Hurry up Arri

As for Arribas, he plays in a position where they will definitely be a vacancy this summer - he will step into Isco's role. Arri, as Zidane calls him, is already ahead of Isco in the pecking order as we saw in the recent games against Cádiz and Osasuna. He has made 10 appearances for Real Madrid this season. The Madrid-born attacking midfielder has enjoyed less opportunities as the 4-3-3 or 5-3-2 systems which Zidane favours, doesn't accomodate a player of his profile, but he has been in superb form for Castilla. As he showed on Sunday with two brilliant goals against Badajoz, the first from almost 50 metres out.

Zidane is more than satisfied with how the three youth team players have adapted. "I'm very pleased for them, they give us extra energy, and that's important," the coach told reporters after the 2-0 win over Osasuna at the weekend. Florentino Pérez warned that the club will struggle financially without the Super League and the squad faces another wages cut. When Blanco, Gutiérrez and Arribas join the first team squad they will start off in the lowest wage bracket, earning around 1.2 million euros per year.

Chust injured

Víctor Chust cabecea un balón en su debut con el Real Madrid, en Copa, contra el Alcoyano.

With Blanco, Gutiérrez and Arribas providing an antidote to some of the structural weaknesses in the squad that were not addressed last summer (and aggravated with Ødegaard's departure in January) there is also another youth team graduate who has been helping out. Central defender Víctor Chust has impressed Zidane. The coach handed him his debut along with the other three, in the Copa del Rey tie against Alcoyano. Chust is a reliable option if Varane and Ramos end up leaving and the club is unable to sign another centre-back other than David Alaba. He is the team's fifth choice central defender, he knows Zidane's working methods to perfection as well as the first team coaching staff. He also has the backing of Raúl, who has been supplying regular updates on his progress.

Four youth team players who are knocking at the door of the senior squad, something which has not happened since the days of Alberto Toril's side which produced the likes of Morata, Jesé, Nacho and Carvajal...