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Marvel: Could Real Madrid's teenage defensive star be a future Ramos replacement?

12:00 GMT 01/12/2021
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The 18-year-old has already caught the eye of Blancos president Florentino Perez after impressing in his first appearances for Real Madrid Castilla

With Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane both having departed over the summer, Real Madrid are on the lookout for their centre-backs of the future.

David Alaba's arrival and the continued improvements shown by Eder Militao mean that there is no major rush at Santiago Bernabeu, though the Blancos are optimistic that they will land Chelsea's out-of-contract star Antonio Rudiger this summer in a bid to further shore up their backline.

And as much as Madrid fans love a big-name signing arriving at Santiago Bernabeu, they are perhaps even more excited when a homegrown player emerges with the talent to become a leader in the first team.

Though they are tentative right now, there are hopes that Marvelous Antolin Garzon - known by most as Marvel - will be able to make that step in the coming years and become a centre-back that Madrid can build their defence arouns for decades.

The 18-year-old has been impressing all those who have watched him so far this season, with the way in which he handled the step up to Madrid's Castilla side particularly eye-catching.

Marvel played his first three matches in the third tier of Spanish football for the club's reserve team in October, showcasing both his footballing ability and composure throughout for Raul's team.

His best performance came in a 0-0 draw with Barcelona B in the 'Miniclasico', after which Madrid president Florentino Perez entered the dressing room to issue his congratulations to Marvel for his superb performance in keeping the Blaugrana at bay.

He has since returned to the Juvenil A (Under-19s) ranks, but having previously been called-up to train with the first team when Zinedine Zidane was in charge, it is clear that the Spain youth international is highly thought of around Valdebebas.

He has come a long way since arriving in Spain as a baby, brought to the country by his Nigerian mother, who told authorities that Marvel had been born in Casablanca, Morocco.

Marvel never knew his biological parents, however, and was adopted at the age of three by Diego and Isabel, with whom he now splits his time following their separation.

He tends to spend more days with Isabel, who lives in the Atocha neighbourhood close to Madrid's training complex, with Marvel able to travel using public transport, much like Castilla boss and club legend Raul did when he was coming through the ranks at La Fabrica.

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"He is a very normal boy," his parents tell GOAL. "He loves birds, and he has many at home. He is also passionate about flamenco, he adores Camaron (a popular Spanish flamenco singer)."

As well as living locally and travelling by using the Metro, Marvel also has one further thing in common with Raul - his spent part of his youth career across the city at Atletico Madrid.

Having begun his formal footballing education at Real, Marvel left to join Atleti for the 2011-12 season. He did not stick around long, however, joining lower-league side Alcala a year later before being signed by Rayo Vallecano in 2015.

It was there where he was spotted once more by Real's scouts, and he has been back at Valdebebas since the start of the 2016-17 campaign.

"I will never forget him," explains Angel Dongil, Marvel's coach at Rayo Vallecano, to GOAL. "He had been at Real Madrid and Atletico, and I saw him at Alcala. I couldn't believe that a kid with that potential was not in one of the great academies in Madrid, and so I signed him for Rayo.

"He lasted a year with us because Madrid didn't take long to get him back - and look now at him!"

Left-footed, standing at six foot tall (184cm) and renowned for his robustness, speed and remarkable ability with the ball at his feet, Marvel has previously been compared to Samuel Umtiti, though he models his game on Madrid legend Ramos. His favourite footballer? Current Blancos star Karim Benzema, of course.

His recent performances for Castilla have led Madrid to consider offering the teenager a new contract, despite his current deal running until 2025.

There have been reports suggesting Manchester United are interested in bringing Marvel to Old Trafford, though GOAL can confirm that no Premier League club has made any kind of approach for the defender.

His future, then, will be at Madrid, but how far can he realistically go?

"I don't see a ceiling for him," his agent, Alfonso Zapata, tells GOAL. "I've known him since Infantil B (U16s) and he has improved every single year."

The Liga leaders will hope that continues as Marvel develops ahead of becoming a regular in the Castilla side and, eventually, the first team.

Having already been called-up to the Spain U19s squad, it is clear that his talent is being recognised nationally as well as in the capital, and on his current trajectory he could yet become a household name around the world.

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