Where are they now? Real Madrid’s 11 wonderkids from Football Manager 2014
They didn’t know it at the time, but Real Madrid were a few months into one of the most special seasons in the club’s history when Football Manager 2014 was released back in October 2013.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side had suffered an indifferent start to the 2013-14 season, losing to Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, and while they eventually ended up finishing third in La Liga they did end up lifting both the Copa del Rey and Champions League trophy – the fabled La Decima.
The club, as ever, had a number of talented prospects emerging. A decade on from the game’s release, we’ve gone back and checked in on how the 11 starlets deemed worthy of ‘wonderkid’ status (via FM Scout) fared in real life.
Not the notable Spanish equestrian, this Sergio Moya doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page – which tells you a thing or two about how his career panned out.
The goalkeeper evidently showed enough in the youth set-up to catch the eye of Football Manager’s wily team of scouts, but he never progressed past the Under-18s.
Moya left Madrid for Real Oviedo in the summer of 2014, kicking off a journeyman career on the fringes of Spain’s lower-league clubs. He was last seen turning out for fifth-tier UP Plasencia.
With one World Cup, three La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues to his name, it’s safe to say that Varane lived up that early career hype.
A promising youngster, Saez hung up his boots at the age of 20 and decided to take on another career entirely, becoming a personal trainer who manages a fitness club.
“The first thing I did was delete all of my football-related contacts and put social media aside,” Saez told Marca.
“I’m totally disengaged from football now and I realise that sometimes you believe things that aren’t true.
“Some people can manage situations better than others.
“I really think I’ve always handled everything well, and I never let any comments change who I was as a person or feel better than the rest.”
The centre-back progressed from La Fabrica to feature for Los Blancos’ C and B teams but his progression was seriously hampered by injuries and he never appeared for the first team.
Jaime, 28, left Madrid for Real Valladolid in 2018, though he only ever played for their reserves. Nowadays he’s turning out for fallen giants Deportivo La Coruna in the third tier.
Not to be confused with his near-namesake Jese Rodriguez (more on him later), Jose Rodriguez was handed his debut for his boyhood club by Jose Mourinho, scoring in a 4-1 Copa del Rey victory over Alcoyano.
A solitary cameo appearance in La Liga followed, but a second league appearance never followed and he never made it beyond the fringes under Mourinho’s successor Ancelotti.
He spent the 2014-15 season out on loan at Deportivo and embarked on a proper journeyman career, representing no fewer than 12 different clubs in five different countries. Earlier this year he signed for Israeli outfit Hapoel Tel Aviv.
The midfielder played nine minutes in Mourinho’s final match in charge of Los Blancos but that was the full extent of his career at the club.
Mascarell spent the 2014-15 campaign with a fairly forgettable loan at Steve McClaren’s Derby County before a stint at Sporting Gijon the year after. In 2016 he moved to Eintracht Frankfurt, bouncing around Germany and Spain in the subsequent years. He’s now turning out for Mallorca.
A Peruvian international that was born and raised in Madrid, attacking midfielder Benavente never made it past Madrid’s Castilla. In 2015 he took the lesser-travelled path of going from Madrid to Milton Keynes, but he only ever made two appearances for MK Dons.
He eventually settled at Belgian side Charleroi before a stint at Egyptian club Pyramids FC. In 2022 Benavente returned to the motherland, signing for Alianza Lima.
Madrid. Milton Keynes. Charleroi. Cairo. Lima. What a career path that is.
Cristian Benavente debut and goal for Alianza Lima!! This is what was expected from El Chaval when he arrived in Perú. 💪🏽 🇵🇪 pic.twitter.com/JH2TyYCVzQ
— Diego Montalvan (@DMontalvan) February 20, 2022
We’d need a whole other article to do justice to Jese’s exploits, but let’s just say he’s not quite lived up to the hype after being billed as the next big thing out of La Fabrica a decade ago.
As of 2023, we’d be amazed if he ever does anything to top the time he reportedly spent €5000 on phonecalls to evict his ex from the Spanish version of Big Brother.
As for his less interesting football career, Jese never quite made the grade at Madrid or PSG. He’s spent the last few years frequently moving between clubs (of course including a spell in the Turkish Super Lig) and earlier this month he signed for Brazilian club Coritiba, where he features alongside Algerian veteran Islam Slimani.
After a weird career of moving between some of Europe’s elite clubs and looking very sad about it, Morata is currently turning out for Atletico Madrid – where he’s been, on and off, for the past four years.
Morata is now 30 and captain of Spain. On his day he’s an excellent forward, and looking pretty good for Simeone’s in-form Atleti right now, but we’d still expect him to miss sitters come the quarter-finals of the Champions League and European Championships next year.
Raul De Tomas
‘R dot D dot T dot’ was talked up as an own brand version of Cristiano Ronaldo (we mean that in a good way), the striker left Real Madrid as a youngster to fulfill his potential as a lethal goalscorer.
He’s had an up-and-down time of it ever since, but has enjoyed prolific spells of form for Rayo Vallecano and Espanyol as the two clubs have flitted between the top two tiers of Spanish football, scoring no fewer than 47 goals in the Segunda Division across the two clubs’ promotion-winning campaigns and a further 31 as they established themselves back in La Liga.
For that he was rewarded with four international caps, although he’s yet to score for Spain and his opportunity may have come and gone. De Tomas is now back at Rayo but has struggled with injuries of late. He only scored four goals last term and is currently battling to refind his old form this season.
Something of a wonderkid in his home country of Colombia, Naravez had already made scored a senior goal for Deportivo Pasto by the time he joined Madrid’s youth ranks as a 16-year-old in 2013.
He spent the next three years developing his game with the C and B teams but never progressed past there. Narvaez moved to Betis in 2016 and made a handful of appearances for the club before establishing himself as more of a second-tier player.
This summer he joined Segunda Division outfit Cartagena.