Eduardo Camavinga Rennes Ligue 1Getty

'Camavinga should ignore the critics and join Real Madrid now if he feels ready'

Having turned down a move to Real Madrid himself as a youngster, former Chelsea defender Mario Melchiot believes that Rennes wonderkid Eduardo Camavinga should move to Santiago Bernabeu right away if he feels that he can handle the glare of the spotlight in the Spanish capital.

Seventeen-year-old midfielder Camavinga has established himself as one of the most promising players in world football, and placed fifth in Goal's annual NxGn countdown of the top 50 teenager footballers on the planet in April.

His prodigious performances in midfield have helped Rennes qualify for the Champions League for the first time in their history after they finished the curtailed Ligue 1 season in third place behind Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille.

Rennes president Nicolas Holveck has insisted that Camavinga will remain at Roazhon Park for another season, but Madrid are reportedly keen on signing the youngster this summer.

Former Ajax ace Melchiot turned down a move to the Spanish capital as a teenager before eventually joining Chelsea as a 23-year-old in 1999.

His advice for Camavinga, though, is to follow his own path.

"When I left Ajax, people said to me it was too early and that I should stay in Holland," Melchiot, who played for Rennes during the 2006-07 season, told Goal. "Let me tell you something, as a player just do what’s right for you and not listen to what people tell you.

"If you feel like it isn’t the right move, then stay where you are. I think you should always consider your development. The team you go to should make you better and you should make the team better.

"If those two things don’t add up, then don’t go. That’s the only answer I have for him.

"He is very young but I have watched him a few times and I like him as a player. He is gifted, he sees things, he is comfortable on the ball and dribbles in the middle of the park very well.

"The technical level in Ligue 1 is very high and Rennes is obviously a good place for him right now. He is protected. 

"But I don’t know if Rennes can keep hold of him beyond next season. I think he has a lot of fire in him and I expect him to keep progressing. And I think there will soon come a time when he is offered the chance to go to another level.

Eduardo Camavinga NxGnGoal

"I had the chance to go to Real Madrid when I was 19 but I chose my family over Madrid because they needed me at that time. I took a gamble because Chelsea might not have come two years later.

"I went all the way to Madrid and saw the team train and everything. They spoke to me, the deal was done and I only needed to sign. My feeling, though, was that I have to do what's right for me.

"But if Real Madrid feels right to Camavinga, he shouldn't listen to what the critics are saying. Every move in football is a risk, but it is about knowing what you can achieve. If he thinks he can achieve great things at Madrid now, he should go for it."

Melchiot's solitary season at Rennes ended in heartbreak as the Brittany outfit agonisingly missed out on a Champions League place by finishing fourth in Ligue 1, just one point behind Toulouse.

"We drew the last game of the season [against Lille] when we should have won," Melchiot lamented. "It was a massive disappointment for us. We wanted to get there so badly.

"We got to the UEFA Cup but the Champions League was what we wanted. I left the club after that, but it was a great journey at Rennes. I learned a lot from that club and city."

Having retired in 2011, Melchiot now works as a pundit on various media channels, mainly covering Premier League football.

He splits his time between Los Angeles and Amsterdam, and has been watching on from his family home in Netherlands as thousands gather around the world to protest against systemic racism following the murder of George Floyd by an American police officer last week.

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The football community has also weighed in, with Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho among those to have drawn attention to Floyd's death during the latest round of Bundesliga games, while several clubs, including Liverpool and Chelsea, have taken a knee in support of those demanding an end to inequality and injustice.

Having experienced racism himself, Melchiot is 100 per cent behind the people of colour in America trying to make their voices heard.

"We see the events in the U.S. and there’s a feeling that things will never change if we don’t stand up for ourselves," he stated. "We don’t want to do it with violence but we don’t want to continue being the victims of violence either.

"What happened in America was someone lost his life who shouldn’t have. So, we have to unite and speak up about it. We want to be heard because things need to change.

"I think that some of the players realise their voices have to be heard too. Social media is around now, giving a different platform and place for them to speak out. And I think we should speak out.

"Nobody wants looting. What we want is understanding and equality. I am not looking to create problems. Nobody is. But because the violence against people of colour never stops, people react like this.

"I never felt less than anyone because of my colour. I am a black person and I am proud to be black. But I grew up in a home where we never had any problem with anyone of any race. That's how I was raised by my mother, so I will never tolerate racism.

"I really hope there is a solution so that we can all move forward together. It is a global issue and not just in America. It happens in England and Amsterdam. I just want things to be normal; to be fair and equal."