Real Madrid vs Barcelona: El Clásico full of young talent
In the Madrid and Barça teams, there are 10 players under 25 years of age.
The generational change that has been brewing at Real Madrid and Barcelona for several years is now a reality. So much so that this is the first Clásico in which the youngsters really rule the roost. In the possible line-ups of both teams, there are up to 10 players, of huge importance, who are under 25 years old: Andriy Lunin, Eder Militao, Aurélien Tchouaméni, Fede Valverde, and Vinicius at Madrid and Jules Koundé, Eric García, Alejandro Balde, Pedri and Gavi at Barça. And the likes of Rodrygo, Ansu Fati and Camavinga, are ready to come off the bench and make an impact.
At Real Madrid, the strategy was set several seasons ago by club president Florentino Pérez. “It’s much more profitable to sign young talent,” he said. At the moment there are six players under the age of 25 with a lot of weight in the squad: Eduardo Camavinga (19), Rodrygo (21), Vinicius and Tchouaméni (22) and Valverde and Militao (24). All of them are starters for Ancelotti.
Los Blancos are taking the opposite route to the one Barcelona have taken with their youngsters, who (like Ansu and Gavi) still come from the youth academy. In contrast, Madrid have spent €260 million on the six youngsters who have become fundamental parts of Carlo Ancelotti’s setup: Camavinga (€40 million), Rodrygo (40), Vinicius (45), Tchouameni (80), Militao (50). Only Valverde, who arrived at the age of 17 for €5 million was a product clearly moulded from the bottom up.
The profitability is already remarkable. Those six players who cost €260 million now have a combined market value, according to the website Transfermarkt, of €465 million. And these are market values that, as a rule, are well below the real transfer figures.
Productivity on the pitch is also unquestionable. Three of them, Vinicius (1,079′), Valverde (986′) and Tchouameni (859′) are among the four players with the most minutes in the squad. And between Vinicius (7), Valverde and Rodrygo (both with 4), they have scored 15 goals, half of the team’s 30 so far this season.
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Both Gavi and Pedri have also taken over the reins in midfield for the Spanish national team, and are, with the exception of Lewandowski and Ter Stegen, the players who have played the most minutes for Barcelona, becoming more important that Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong, who arrived three years ago as a star from Ajax.
Gavi and Pedri are Barcelona’s most outstanding youngsters, but at the Bernabéu there is one 18-year-old who faces a big test. Alejandro Balde will most likely be the player Xavi will choose for the difficult task of trying to stop Vinicius on the left wing.
The Blaugrana defence will likely feature two youngsters in the shape of 21-year-old Eric Garcia, paired with 23-year-old Frenchman Jules Koundé. On the bench, 19-year-old Ansu Fati, who has had game time in Barça’s last six games, will be waiting for his time to shine in the biggest game in world football.