The three best young players never to play for Real Madrid?
Okay, technically Jese Rodriguez, Alvaro Morata and Joselu have all made the first team breakthrough at Real. But for all their hype, the trio face a near impossible task of repeating the success of legend Raul
Amid celebrating promotion back to the Segunda Division, Morata, Jese and Joselu are also contemplating offers from home and abroad to launch their top-flight careers.
Since the end of the season, Benfica and Arsenal have asked after 19 year-old winger Jese, striker Morata has attracted enquiries from half the Primera Division and West Ham United have held a round of talks over a fee for centre-forward Joselu.
At 22, Joselu appears the most likely to move on.
Signed from Celta Vigo, where he made his first team debut, Joselu has now been with the Castilla for three years and struck an impressive 26 goals last term in their promotion winning campaign.
Standing at 6ft 3in and with pace to burn, its little wonder he’s long attracted interest from England. West Ham remain locked in talks for Joselu, though the idea of a guaranteed buy-back option for Real is putting them off. Arsenal chief scout Steve Rowley is also a fan.
For his part, Joselu insists he’s in no rush to quit Real and says he’s committed to playing in the Segunda Division next season. But after three years running around Segunda B for the Castilla with little encouragement for first team promotion, the chance to play at the top in England has turned his head.
Like Joselu, Alvaro Morata has also benefitted from the tutelage of Castilla coach Alberto Toril. Known primarily as a centre-forward, Morata has added more to his game under Toril and has visibly improved when in possession over the last 12 months.
Real coach Jose Mourinho rates the 19 year-old highly and has told Toril he plans to add the youngster to his senior squad next season. The stumbling block for Mourinho, however, is that his roster is already over-loaded and there remains the very real possibility of being simply no room for Morata.
Past enquiries from Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool have all been rebuffed by Real, where many in the football department regard Morata as the best chance of a Castilla striker making it since Raul.
“I want to stay in the Castilla,” Morata insists. “We’re in the Segunda, which is a step closer to Primera and I want to stay here.
“I want to continue and if it’s the club’s desire, I’ll be here for another five years.”
Of the three, Jese is regarded as the most talented.
The 19 year-old winger has been likened to Cristiano Ronaldo and attracted enquiries from across Europe.
After the success of Castilla graduate Rodrigo Moreno, Benfica have been pushing Real about Jese since the end of last season. But should there be any indications of a sale, the Portuguese can expect competition from across the continent for his signature.
At 14, Jese was making his senior debut with the Castilla and last season Mourinho handed him a first team chance in the rout of Real Sociedad.
As temperamental as he is talented, it is hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the teenage winger. Jese had to work through a 15 match ban for attacking a referee as a junior player and also has been left out of games by Real coaching staff for disciplinary problems.
United chief scout Martin Ferguson made a personal check earlier this year and the thought of dealing with Jese’s volatile character is unlikely to put off manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has no doubts about the midfielder’s ability: “He’s a powerful guy, fast, distinguished by his change of pace. He is clever. He can play as a playmaker, but also on both the left and right flanks.”
Such is the expectations around Jese that he even attracted a cheeky offer from Barcelona last year.
Real football chiefs know its now crunch time for their Castilla trio. Will Mourinho find room? Can he convince them to hang on for another season in the stiffs?
Manolo Sanchis, the Real icon, summed up the situation recently:
“It’s a misconception that the problems the club is having has only happened recently. It’s not been only in the last two years, it’s not only Mourinho’s fault. There are generations that have been lost.
“There is a very simple explanation: the youth teamers can only become first team players if the coach believes in them. If the coach cannot rely on them, as has happened in recent times, the kids have it really tough.”