Real Madrid on average sign players at a younger age compared to other clubs in Europe’s top five leagues, a study has found.
Madrid have become famous for their Galacticos transfer policy, led by president Florentino Perez. But research from the CIES Football Observatory has shown that their squad members were recruited at a younger age than those at any other top division club in Spain, England, Germany, France or Italy.
Next on the list were Bundesliga sides Leipzig, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund, with the Premier League’s Tottenham completing the top five, and Bournemouth, Liverpool and Manchester United all inside the top 10.
Bordeaux were the first Ligue 1 club to show on the list in 10th spot, with Udinese the highest-ranked Serie A side in 13th.
Some teams usually praised for successful transfer policies came quite far down the ranking of 98 clubs, such as Leicester in 69th, Sevilla in 89th, Juventus in 60th and Southampton in 51st.
Selected other clubs included Arsenal (12th), Barcelona (16th), Chelsea (24th), Bayern Munich (45th), Atletico Madrid (65th) and Manchester City (71st).
“Real Madrid squad members were on average recruited at the age of 22.5 years,” the study found. “This is the lowest figure at big-five league level. German and English teams are over-represented in the top positions of the rankings.
“The best clubs focus their recruitment on younger players than less competitive teams. In the top five positions of clubs whose transfer policy is the most centered on young footballers are four Champions League participating teams: Real Madrid, Leverkusen, Dortmund and Tottenham.
“Conversely, no German club is among the 10 big-five league teams whose recruitment strategy focuses on the most seasoned [oldest] players. Italian side Cagliari is at the bottom of the table.”
While Madrid have signed a number of promising youngsters such as Marco Asensio, Jesus Vallejo and Mariano Diaz recently, ahead of a looming FIFA transfer ban, the club also has a long-term strategy of investing heavily in emerging talent.
Current squad members to join Madrid before their 22nd birthday include Marcelo (18), Raphael Varane (18), Casemiro (20), Sergio Ramos (19), Karim Benzema (21), Mateo Kovacic (21) and Isco (21).
Expensive established stars Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez also all arrived at the Bernabeu in their mid-20s.