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The defender believes Los Blancos' academy is among the finest in Europe, and feels blooding youngsters has nothing to do with courage

Former Real Madrid man Francisco Pavon insists the club's youth system is better than Barcelona's La Masia.

The Santiago Bernabeu side have recently been criticised for their hesitance to field players from their own academy, but Pavon - himself a product of the Madrid youth setup - hit back at those critics.

"Everyone always wants to talk about the academy, and I believe Madrid's academy is the best in Spain and one of the best in Europe," Pavon was quoted as saying by AS.

"It has always produced great players, whether they play for Madrid or for other teams. Many of the best players in the world have come from Madrid's academy."

Pavon then took the time to respond to Barcelona director Andoni Zubizarreta's suggestion that Madrid are afraid to put their faith in promising youngsters.

"I don't think it has anything to do with being brave, it's more about necessity," he added.

"The team designs its squad in July after the season, and the academy players are a part of those squads, but is only when first team players get injured that they get a chance to fill in."

Pavon, 32, made over 100 appearances for Madrid and was part of the squad that won the Champions League in 2002.

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