Arbeloa joins Raúl, Xabi Alonso as future Real Madrid job candidate
Álvaro Arbeloa, who this weekend guided Real Madrid Under-19s to silverware, is the latest former first-team star to be earmarked as a potential Bernabéu boss.
Real Madrid’s youth set-up is not only a production line of elite players; it’s also the launch pad for promising young coaches. Just look at the trio of former first-team stalwarts whose careers in the dugout are flourishing. Raúl González is impressing at the helm of Castilla, Madrid’s ‘B’ team; Xabi Alonso, who took his first steps as a coach with Los Blancos’ Under-14s, has landed the Bayer Leverkusen job; and, now, Álvaro Arbeloa is enjoying success in the Spanish giants’ academy.
Arbeloa leads Real Madrid Under-19s to cup win
This weekend, Arbeloa won his first silverware as a coach with Madrid’s Under-19s - just like Raúl, who led the team to the 2019/20 UEFA Youth League title before being promoted to Castilla. On Saturday, Arbeloa’s men added to the Under-19s’ trophy collection when they lifted the 16th Copa del Rey Juvenil in the club’s history.
By guiding Madrid to victory in León, Arbeloa demonstrated his ability - albeit only at youth level - to withstand the pressure of the ‘favourites’ tag and deliver success from the touchline. The Under-19s’ 2-1 final victory over Almería was the team’s 35th straight game without defeat in all competitions, a run that has seen them rack up a goal difference of +104.
Despite frequently losing key players such as Edgar Pujol, Rafael Obrador and Nico Paz to Castilla, Arbeloa has created a winning team. He has taken the opportunity to bring through new talents: for example, 15-year-old right-back Jesús Fortea skipped three age groups to make his debut for the Under-19s two weeks ago.
Under-19s could complete unprecedented treble
Arbeloa has built a side that dances to the beat of the Andalusian Manuel Ángel Morán, but is highly versatile. They aren’t dependent on an out-and-out No. 9, not least because they boast goalscoring midfielders such as César Palacios and Pol Fortuny, who marked his 18th birthday with Madrid’s opener against Almería.
Arbeloa’s Under-19s are well placed to secure a domestic and European treble, a feat no other Madrid youth team has ever achieved. Against AZ Alkmaar on Wednesday, Los Blancos have the opportunity to claim a place in the semi-finals of the Youth League. In the Spanish league, meanwhile, it’s a tight race. Madrid lead Group V in the country’s División de Honor, with Atlético Madrid breathing down their necks. The winner will be certain of qualification for the Copa de Campeones, which decides Spain’s overall under-19 champions.
Madrid eye senior roles for former first-team idols
Madrid are watching on with deep satisfaction at the emergence of a group of young coaches who know the club inside out, and are hugely popular figures among the supporters. In addition to their touchline talents, that’s a factor that’s very much to the club’s liking. A transition in the senior dugout to a fan favourite like Raúl, Alonso or Arbeloa would follow in the footsteps of the wildly successful appointment of Zinedine Zidane in 2016, when Los Merengues sought a replacement for Rafa Benítez. For now, though, Madrid’s stars of tomorrow are reaping the benefits of working with Madrid’s stars of yesteryear.
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