As the transfer window approaches its final third this summer, most people are focusing on the fact that Ligue 1 is establishing itself as a major player. Ramadel Falcao, James Rodriguez and now Edison Cavani have all joined the French revolution. Whilst all this is going on, one of the biggest powerhouses in football, Real Madrid seem to be buying somewhat under the radar this summer.
Real Madrid are taking a fresh approach to their transfer strategy, recruiting a new ‘fantastic five’ with an emphasis on youth to light the way at the Bernabeu. Some thirty years after the original ‘La Quinta del Buitre’, Florentino Perez is putting his faith in a new set of young recruits with Zinedine Zidane at the helm.
‘La Quinta del Buitre’ was the title given to the five homegrown players of Real Madrid who dominated Spanish football in the 1980s. Emilio Butragueño, Manolo Sanchís, Martín Vázquez, Míchel and Miguel Pardeza brought new stamina to the team – something that Perez is desperately hoping his new quintet can replicate.
In typical Real Madrid style, no time has been wasted and not only have the club re-signed Dani Carvarjal but they have also netted under 21 star Isco and Asier Illarramendi to boot (raising questions over the future of Xabi Alonso – something that Chelsea and Liverpool are very interested in following up if the whispers are to be believed).
There have also been promotions for Alvaro Morata who was on the fringes of things last season, scoring a memorable goal at Levante during a game of what can only be described as water polo and Jese has been given the nod to complete the ‘Quinta del Buitre’ or as we know them, the fantastic five.
The average age of the players above totals at 21.5 – much less than Los Blancos sides of recent years and given that Isco and Carvarjal are both 21 and Illarra is only 23, that represents the youngest collection of players bought under the Florentino Perez reign – beating even that of Baptista, Robinho and Sergio Ramos (back before his age was much less than the number of yellow cards he received) whose ages totalled 22.8 in 05-06.
Quite if that will work in the face of the mighty Barcelona remains to be seen, especially when the Catalan Giants have landed Neymar meaning the Champions will only be stronger next term – and Real Madrid need to win at least one significant title to make up for the utter decimation of last season’s campaign.
Not only do Los Blancos have Barcelona to contend with, but they also have to worry about the club people are hailing as the ones to beat in world football. Bayern Munich have followed the policy of Real Madrid somewhat – Thiago Alcantara and Mario Gotze are both very young and developing players – but are proven on a world stage – and are going into what seems to be a completed team, or at least a far more complete one than Real Madrid looked last term – with holes in the side at not only the back but a glaring near for a world class forward up top.
Make no mistake, Perez would have given Luis Suarez a run for his money in the biting a hand off stakes had Edison Cavani been interested, and Ramadel Falcao would not have been turned away from Valdebebas either. Having lost out on these two, Perez formulated a different strategy and turned to youth – and only Perez could manage to spend an amount that would keep a small country ticking over for a year to do it.
Of course, should this fail, it will be Carlo Ancelotti’s head on the chopping block and make no mistake, Perez is as ruthless as they come.