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The new Vinicius or another Odegaard? Ranking Real Madrid's 'mini-Galactico' signings after Endrick deal

16:00 EAT 17/12/2022
Real Madrid teenage signings GFX
Following the €60m signing of Endrick, GOAL runs through the 12 teenage talents Los Blancos have signed since 2013...

It is no secret that Real Madrid wanted Neymar when he first exploded onto the scene at Santos. The Spanish giants were reportedly in the mix for some time until the Brazilian star signed for Barcelona in 2013.

After Madrid missed out on securing Neymar's services, their recruitment policy shifted to stealing a march on their rivals by targeting the game's most exciting young players.

The Spanish giants have since signed 12 high-profile teenage talents, but it's fair to say that very few have been unqualified successes.

While Eduardo Camavinga, Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo are presently starring for the senior side, the likes of Jesus Vallejo, Martin Odegaard and Take Kubo quickly disappeared into the Madrid loan circuit.

Madrid are not to be deterred, though, as underlined by their decision to pay a staggering €60 million (£52m/$63.5m) for the 16-year-old Palmeiras forward Endrick.

So, where does he rank among the most gifted youngsters Real have snapped up during the past decade?..

  • Jesús Vallejo, Real Madrid

    #12 Jesus Vallejo

    Joining Madrid as a centre-back in 2016 was always going to be tricky. The Sergio Ramos-Raphael Varane partnership was at its dominant best. And even though a loan move was always likely, Vallejo has still failed to make his mark on the first team, despite being at the club for nearly six years. He's been loaned out three times and, at 25 years old, still hasn't played a full season of football. However, given Madrid only paid €5m (£4.4m/$5.3m) for Vallejo, his failure hasn't proven too costly.

  • Reinier Jesus Girona 2022

    #11 Reinier

    Even for Madrid, notorious for some questionable transfer business, this was a bad one. Reinier was signed from Flamengo for €30 million (£26m/$32m) in 2019 while he was still only 17. At the time, the deal did seem to make some sense. An exciting attacking player with an eye for goal, Reinier was raw but also theoretically coachable into whatever position Madrid needed. But he failed to impress for the reserves and is now out on loan at Girona after failing to make the grade at Borussia Dortmund. Los Blancos may yet sell him for a decent fee, but it's unlikely he will ever play a game for Madrid.

  • Takefusa Kubo

    #10 Takefusa Kubo

    It's hard to recall a player who generated more online hype than the Japanese winger. Kubo enjoyed immense success in the Barcelona academy before a breach of FIFA transfer policy meant Kubo had to return to Japan. Madrid snapped him up in 2019, with copious videos of Kubo's tricky feet doing the rounds on social media. But Kubo never reached the heights expected of him and, within three years, he had been sold to Real Sociedad.

  • Theo Hernandez Real Madrid

    #9 Theo Hernandez

    The Hernandez case is an interesting one. The Frenchman is considered one of the best left-backs in the game today – and might soon have a World Cup winner's medal. Yet former Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane didn't rate his compatriot. Real took Hernandez from Atletico Madrid's B team after a breakout campaign at Alaves, shelling out nearly €25 million to bring him to the Santiago Bernabeu. Hernandez was 19 at the time, had all the skills required to be a long-term replacement for Marcelo and made 23 appearances during the 2017-18 season. However, he was shipped off on loan to Sociedad in 2018 before being sold to AC Milan in 2019. It was a great move for Theo, who has gone from strength to strength at San Siro, but a dreadful deal by Madrid, who let him leave for just €20m (£17m/$21m).

  • Lunin Real Madrid

    #8 Andriy Lunin

    Is it really Lunin's fault that he's only made 11 appearances for Real Madrid? His signing was puzzling, with the goalkeeper arriving from Ukrainian side Zorya Luhansk in the same summer as Thibaut Courtois. Playing time was always going to be hard to come by. Lunin was sent out on loan three times, appearing for Leganes, Valladolid and Oviedo between 2018 and 2020. These days, he's Courtios' primary backup but Lunin should probably seek a permanent move to a club willing to offer him the starting spot he needs to develop his game, given he's still only 23 – particularly as there is now talk that Madrid are interested in Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.

  • Brahim Diaz Mallorca Real Madrid LaLiga 19102019

    #7 Brahim Diaz

    Diaz shares a similar story to AC Milan team-mate Hernandez – although the Spaniard has yet to seal a permanent switch to San Siro. An exciting attacking player bought from Manchester City for a modest €17m (£15m/$18m), Diaz appeared to be a sound investment for the future. But there were always doubts over where exactly he would fit into the Madrid line-up. He was never going to break into the midfield and didn't look like Real's preferred type of winger either. Consequently, while he did see some game time, he made just 21 appearances across two full seasons, and only scored once. A loan move, then, always made sense and he is now in his third season at Milan. There are complications with any potential transfer, though, as City reportedly worked a 15 percent sell-on clause into Diaz's contract. Still, Milan remain interested in making the arrangement permanent at the right price, meaning Madrid remain likely to make a profit on the 23-year-old.

  • Martin Odegaard Arsenal 2022-23

    #6 Martin Odegaard

    Despite only making eight appearances across six seasons at Madrid, Martin Odegaard could arguably be considered a shrewd signing. Los Blancos beat some big names to sign the Norwegian in 2015, buying him from Stromsgodset for around €3m (£2.6m/$3.2m). Odegaard never really got close to breaking into the senior team, though, swiftly becoming part of Madrid's loan system, bouncing around four clubs before sealing a permanent transfer to Arsenal in 2021. It may sting supporters to see Odegaard pulling the strings for the Premier League leaders, but Madrid made a hefty profit on the playmaker, who moved to north London for €40m (£35m/$42m).

  • Endrick Palmeiras 2022_23

    #5 Endrick

    It is, quite simply, too soon to tell if Madrid have overpaid for Endrick. He certainly looks like a generational talent. The striker is already a fine finisher and, in theory, he should just get better and better given he's still only 16. He should also benefit from spending another two years in Brazil before moving to Spain. But there are simply no guarantees in this game. Endrick is clearly immensely talented but paying such a colossal sum of money for one so young is clearly a high-risk move by Madrid.

  • Eduardo Camavinga Real Madrid

    #4 Eduardo Camavinga

    There's reason to believe the Frenchman will be even higher up this list in 12 months' time. He was something of a confusing signing when purchased from Rennes last year. His potential was obvious but there was a fear that his development might be stunted by a lack of game time at the Bernabeu. However, Camavinga has carved out plenty of game time for himself thanks to his impressive versatility. Furthermore, as Toni Kroos and Luca Modric come towards the end of their careers, Camavinga's influence should only grow. Indeed, if he gets to play regularly in his preferred No.6 role, the France international has everything in his locker to become one of the best players in the world.

  • Rodrygo Real Madrid 2022-23

    #3 Rodrygo

    Rodrygo has been a big success so far – even though he is not yet a certain starter. The Brazilian is still only 21; his best is yet to come. Besides, he's already proven himself a tricky winger with a penchant for scoring important goals. He will also undoubtedly benefit from settling into a set position and it appears only a matter of time before that happens. The €45m (£39m/$48m) signing from Santos should prove money well spent.

  • Marco Asensio Real Madrid 09032022

    #2 Marco Asensio

    It might seem like a long time ago, but Marco Asensio was a very valuable player for Real Madrid for a few years. Signed from Mallorca in 2014 and loaned out to Espanyol shortly after, Asensio didn't become a Madrid regular until 2017. But once he found a spot in the line-up, Asensio delivered. He was a key piece of the 2017-18 Champions League-winning team, often filling in – or starting ahead of – the injury-prone Gareth Bale. Although a serious knee injury in 2019 derailed his development, Asensio can still be a valuable asset on his day. And considering Madrid only paid €3.9m (£3.4m/$4.1m) for the winger, he can be considered an excellent bit of business, particularly as they might yet make a massive profit on that initial investment, with several top clubs interested in signing Asensio.

  • Vinicius Junior Real madrid 2022-23

    #1 Vinicius Junior

    €45m seemed like an absurd amount of money for Vinicius back in 2018, but it's paid off now. The Brazilian has firmly established himself as one of the best wingers in the world. Things didn't start well, of course. He struggled for 18 months, most infamously with his finishing. Karim Benzema was also caught on camera slating his young team-mate's distribution of the ball. However, the pair have since developed an excellent rapport, and played a key role in firing Madrid to Champions League glory last season, with Vinicius even netting the winner in the final against Liverpool. The Brazilian looks very much like a future Ballon d'Or winner.