Real Madrid‘s academy might not carry the same mystique as Barcelona’s equivalent, at least not outside Spain, but Los Blancos have a healthy conveyor belt of their own.
Under an array of managers in the 2010s, a whopping 36 academy graduates made their first team debuts in La Liga, the Copa del Rey or the Champions League.
If we count those who passed through the academy, left and then returned, the figure is even higher. Some are still at the Bernabeu, some are thriving elsewhere and a handful haven’t quite made the grade.
This list is restricted to those who came through Real Madrid’s academy, playing for Castilla and/or the now-discontinued Real Madrid C, and then graduated to the first team.
Those who played elsewhere on loan first are still included, but there’s no place for players who played for the academy sides but then left and returned – sorry Dani Carvajal and Jose Callejon. Similarly, anyone who played for another club before joining the Madrid youth set-up, like Mariano.
Without further ado, then, here are those 36 – yes, thirty-six – names.
Defensive midfielder Mosquera had big shoes to fill on his debut, replacing Xabi Alonso for the final few minutes of a 4-2 victory at Getafe in March 2010.
He played in the same fixture the following year, but on the other side, having joined Getafe without adding to that one game in white.
After spells with Elche and Deportivo La Coruna, he joined newly relegated Huesca for their 2019-20 campaign in the Spanish second tier.
Just one month after Mosquera’s debut, another youngster got his chance, but Alonso would do a great deal more.
He wouldn’t do it in Madrid, mind. The teenager moved to Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League in 2010, staying with the Lancashire team after relegation before joining Fiorentina.
Alonso couldn’t stay away from England, though. A fruitful loan spell at Sunderland followed, while he’s now at Chelsea where he played a big part in the Blues’ run to the 2016-17 title.
Adan got his chance under Jose Mourinho, when the Portuguese coach was testing the waters ahead of a full-scale war with Iker Casillas.
The young goalkeeper had filled in a few times in the 2010-11 season, once after an injury to Jerzy Dudek and again after Casillas was sent off against Espanyol, but it was a couple of years later when Mourinho famously benched the Spain international to hand Adan a league start away to Malaga.
As soon as Mourinho was gone, though, Adan soon followed. He didn’t play for the club again after January 2013, moving briefly to Cagliari and then less briefly to Real Betis, where he played more than 150 games. He’s now at Atletico Madrid, as Jan Oblak’s deputy.
Sarabia might not have made it to the top at the Bernabeu, but he’s done pretty well for himself.
The winger replaced Cristiano Ronaldo in a Champions League victory over Auxerre in 2010, but he never played for the club domestically and joined Getafe the following summer.
However, it was at Sevilla where he really thrived, scoring 26 goals in three league seasons and several more in the Champions League before earning a move to Paris Saint-Germain in 2019.
After doing his time with the second string, Nacho was handed a senior debut in April 2011, playing the full 90 in a 3-1 victory over Real Betis.
More than eight years on, he’s still around and is closing in on 200 senior games for Los Blancos.
The defender has also made his Spain debut in that time, representing his country at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and scoring one of the goals of the tournament against Portugal.
Nacho’s amazing goal against Portugal. GOLAZO. pic.twitter.com/6lbLdh9UwH
— Oℓgυiтα (@olfio19) July 1, 2018
Morata was another to make his bow in the 2010-11 season, coming on for Angel di Maria in a league win at Real Zaragoza.
He played a fair bit more for Real Madrid than many others on this list, but nearly half of his 100 appearances came in his second spell, with a stint at Juventus in the middle.
The striker, who scored 31 goals across those spells, is now on the other side of town after joining Atletico Madrid on loan from Chelsea. He’s almost halfway towards that goals total for Atleti.
Juan Carlos’ only Real Madrid minutes came in a 6-1 victory over Deportivo la Coruna as a substitute for Di Maria, and it won’t surprise you to learn the man sometimes known as Juankar has stayed away from English football.
He moved to Braga in 2011 but never played for the Portuguese club, instead spending time on loan at Zaragoza, Betis and Granada before inking a temporary switch to Malaga in 2015.
That move became permanent two years later, and he has played more than 80 games for the now second-tier side.
One of many goalkeepers to fail to jump the queue, Mejias played less than 10 minutes in a Real Madrid shirt back in 2011.
Former Real Madrid defender Aitor Karanka took him to Middlesbrough when managing the English club in 2014, but he never held down a first-team spot with Boro.
He’s now back with the club under Jonathan Woodgate, having spent a year in Cyprus, and made his second debut against Tottenham in the FA Cup.
Mourinho spoke highly of Mateos before handing him a debut, but the defender didn’t stick around all that long.
He played just once for the first team, but a fair amount for Castilla, before becoming a bit of a world traveller.
Now 32, the centre-back is playing his football in Israel after stints in Hungary and the United States.
Alex was just 18 when he made his debut in La Liga, replacing Mesut Ozil in a victory at Racing Santander, but was soon back in the B team.
No more senior games would follow, and the midfielder decided to try his luck with Espanyol in 2013.
Reading fans may remember him for a brief loan spell under Steve Clarke, which brought just one goal, while he’s now in the Segunda Division with Cadiz.
Young defender Casado picked up some cup minutes back in 2011-12 but never went any further than that.
He dropped down a division after that, playing for Real Betis as they won promotion back to La Liga and also spending time at Ponferradina and Real Zaragoza in the Segunda.
In 2017, he made a move to Greek side Xanthi, where he remains today.
A highly-rated academy graduate, Jese turned his goalscoring form for Castilla into a decent first-team record too.
After making his debut in 2012 against Real Sociedad, the forward had to wait a while for his first goal, but that came at the Camp Nou in a 2013 Clasico.
He ended with 18 goals in just shy of 100 games before PSG came calling, but his time in France hasn’t gone to plan. After loan spells in Spain and England, he’s now spending the 2019-20 in Portugal with Sporting.
Another name on the long production line of goalkeepers, Pacheco made his debut in the 2011-12 Copa Del Rey and earned a first start in the same competition three years later.
He might not have made the grade in Madrid, but he has taken the long route to La Liga, winning promotion with Alaves and keeping his place as the club have held their own in the top flight.
This season saw Pacheco play his 150th league game for Alaves, and he played the full 90 minutes as his new team narrowly lost to his old one in November.
Not to be confused with near-namesake Jese, Jose Rodriguez made his debut as a replacement for Karim Benzema against Atletico Madrid in 2012 and came on for Kaka in a Champions League game a few days later.
If you’re thinking to yourself, ‘I don’t remember this guy,’ that’ll be because those were his only two senior appearances before he left for Galatasaray in 2015.
Having also played football in Germany and Israel, he’s now back in Spain with Malaga.
Cheryshev definitely left his mark on Real Madrid history, though it wasn’t in the way he’d have wanted.
His ineligibility in the 2015 Copa del Rey brought the club’s expulsion from the competition and Rafa Benitez’s dismissal as manager, accelerating Zinedine Zidane’s rise to greatness.
The Russian winger had made his Madrid debut a few years earlier in the same competition but ended with just seven games to his name before joining Villarreal in 2016. He’s now at Valencia, with whom he spent part of last season on loan.
A defensive midfielder who made his Castilla debut at 18, Mascarell left Real Madrid with just nine minutes of senior football to his name.
Joining Eintracht Frankfurt in 2016, he has carved out an impressive career for himself in Germany with 68 Bundesliga appearances to his name.
He joined Schalke in 2018 and now captains David Wagner’s side.
Llorente made his debut in the same game as Mascarell, a 4-2 league victory over Osasuna, but stuck around slightly longer than his compatriot.
The centre-back added one more league game, a 2014 win over Almeria, plus one Copa del Rey outing, before leaving in 2017.
Since joining Real Sociedad that summer, he has become a regular at club level and has remained in the mix for the Spanish national side.
There aren’t too many on this list with Champions League goals to their name, but Medran is one of them.
Having replaced Gareth Bale in a victory over Ludogorets in the 2014-15 season, he found the net in the dying moments.
Sadly for the midfielder, that would be his fifth and final game for Los Blancos. He spent the next few years with Getafe and Valencia, but will play in Major League Soccer in 2020 after agreeing a deal with Chicago Fire.
Believe it or not, De Tomas only left Real Madrid in 2019 despite racking up just the one first-team game in five years.
That appearance came in the 2014-15 Copa del Rey as a replacement for Karim Benzema, but his loan spells included a productive couple of years at Rayo Vallecano.
After netting 14 times in Rayo’s 2018-19 relegation from La Liga, the forward moved to Benfica over the summer on a permanent deal.
More importantly, we once signed him on Football Manager and he was absolutely class.
Shortly after De Tomas’ debut away to Cornella, Munoz made his bow in the second leg of the same tie.
Like his compatriot, that was Munoz’s only game for his boyhood club, and he returned to Castilla not long after.
He’s now at Alaves with Pacheco and made his debut against Barcelona in December after spending last season on loan at Real Oviedo.
A confusing one, here. Vazquez came through Real Madrid’s academy and played for Castilla before a loan move to Espanyol became permanent.
However, the winger was re-signed before playing another minute for the Catalan club, meaning he barely even ‘left’ the Bernabeu.
He’s now closing in on 200 games for Madrid and has three Champions League winner’s medals. Vazquez came off the bench to score his team’s first penalty in the 2016 final but wasn’t involved at all in the 2017 final and was an unused sub against Liverpool in 2018.
— COPA90 (@Copa90) October 18, 2017
The second Llorente on the list outdid his namesake in terms of appearances but is no longer a Real Madrid player.
A midfielder by trade, he naturally failed to get past peak Modric and Kroos to hold down a first-team place, which is frankly forgivable.
After making his debut in La Liga in 2015, Llorente played nearly 40 games for the club, but made the switch to Atletico Madrid this summer.
Mayoral is still just 22, which is odd as it feels like he’s been around forever.
The striker was still 18 when he made his Real Madrid debut and 20 when he scored his first La Liga goal for the club.
Having previously spent a year on loan at Wolfsburg, he’s getting some more top-flight experience on loan at Levante this term.
Yanez was way down the pecking order for goalkeepers for most of his time in Madrid, but did at least play once.
That was a 14-minute run-out against Cultural Leonesa in the 2016-17 Copa del Rey, in which he replaced starting keeper Kiko Casilla.
Now 26, he’s on loan a Huesca from Getafe and is yet to play a league minute for his parent club.
A 19-year-old Tejero made his debut as a replacement for Pepe in a 2015 Copa del Rey win in Cadiz, but that was one of just five first-team games for the defender.
One of those came in the league (two minutes in a 6-2 win at Depor), while the other three were cup starts.
He joined Eibar in the summer and has already more than doubled that tally.
One of Zinedine Zidane’s sons, Enzo unsurprisingly played his first Madrid minutes under his old man.
His one and only appearance came in the aforementioned Leonesa game, where he capped off a dream 45 minutes with a debut goal.
After dotting around Spain and Switzerland for the last couple of years, he joined Portuguese outfit Aves in the summer and scored twice in his first four games.
Achraf is surely one for the very near future, having gone out on loan and thrived.
The Moroccan scored twice in the 2017-18 season, his first after graduating from the academy, and went to that summer’s World Cup.
He’s currently in the midst of a two-year loan at Borussia Dortmund, for whom he has impressed in the Champions League.
Argentine winger Franchu actually replaced Achraf for his debut, coming on against Fuenlabrada in the 2017-18 Copa del Rey, and earned a start in the second leg of that tie.
Real Madrid haven’t rushed him, though, and he remains with Castilla having not yet played a league game.
The second of the Zidane kids, goalkeeper Luca played the full 90 minutes on his league debut in May 2018.
He got another run-out last season, conceding twice to lowly Huesca in La Liga, but has not added to those two games.
The 21-year-old is spending this season on loan at Racing Santander.
Another man to make his debut against Fuenlabrada, Quezada left the club without another appearance to his name.
He’s now at Cadiz, and was sent off at the weekend.
Oscar played in that game too, but spent the 2018-19 season on loan at Leganes.
He liked it so much he’s decided to stick around for another year.
Seoane made his debut against – you guessed it – Fuenlabrada.
Moved to Huesca over the summer.
Best known for attempting to beef not one but two Barcelona players, Reguilon played 22 times last season in what was a breakthrough year for the Real Madrid full-back.
He’s getting more high-level football this season on loan at Sevilla, even earning a full Spanish call-up in the process.
“The best way to make it difficult for Zidane is to play well for Sevilla,” he said in a recent interview with AS.
Sanchez’s five Real Madrid games to date have come in three different competitions.
He played twice in last season’s Champions League group stage, twice in the Copa del Rey and once in La Liga as a half-time replacement for Reguilon at Celta Vigo.
Madrid have sent him on loan to Valladolid for the 2019-20 season.
A central midfielder still part of the Castilla set-up, Fidalgo got 12 minutes in last season’s Copa del Rey towards the end of a victory over Melilla.
Left-back Garcia was involved in the same cup game as Fidalgo, playing half the game and earning an assist for Isco’s goal late on.