While Real Madrid in some shape or form have been rumored to be potentially high on profile players like Gareth Bale, Edinson Cavani and, to a lesser extent, Luis Suarez, the club have completed four low profile but important signings during this summer transfer window.
Real Madrid began the summer by making the signing of current Real Madrid Castilla product Casemiro from Brazilian club Sao Paulo permanent, and exercised a 6 million euro buy back clause with Bayer Leverkusen to bring back Spain U-21 defender Daniel Carvajal.
A few weeks back, Isco was signed from Malaga to fill in as an attacking midfielder and serve as the first signing associated with the reign of Carlo Ancelotti. On Friday, the latest player to have been part of the winning Spain team that won the UEFA U-21 Tournament was signed as Asier Illarramendi was brought in from Spanish side Real Sociedad for 35-38 million euros.
Illarramendi resembles another former Real Sociedad academy product in terms of style and position of play and that is current Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso. In addition, both are from the town of Gipuzcoa in the Basque region.
With the signing of Illarramendi to go along with those of Carvajal and Isco, their signings serve as a clear indication of what direction Real Madrid plan on taking for the short term and for the long term.
The first indication which does not resonate immediately with fans is that the signing of Illarramendi serves as the clearest indicator that the 2013-14 season will be the last one Alonso plays with Real Madrid. It has been rumored that Alonso has expressed a desire to finish his career in the Premier League. By signing, Illarramendi, Real Madrid have his natural successor in place and everything about Illarramendi screams of him being a younger version of Alonso.
The second indication that the signing of Illarramendi et al signals is the most serious attempt at Spanishization of having a core group of young Spanish players at Real Madrid. This was a policy of intent that was re-iterated back in 2009-10, but at the time, the infusion of Spanish players took form of signing the likes of Alonso, Alvaro Arbeloa, and Raul Albiol.
The signing of those three players, while important, were signings of players who had already established themselves as Spain national team regulars. While Alonso became a regular, Arbeloa and Albiol have had some up and down moments. Signing Carvajal, Isco and Illarramendi means that Real Madrid now intend on building around a core group of young Spanish internationals.
It is clear that the club have looked at the success that has been had by Barcelona and noticed that the key to the recent success by Barcelona has been having a core group of Spanish players that serve as the engine and heartbeat to their play on the field with the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets.
Furthermore, the connection to the fans in recent years has been lacking because of a lack of identifiable young Spanish players within Real Madrid which fans can feel connected to is also an important trait that Real Madrid as a club have been lacking for several years.
Add to the fact that Ancelotti will be giving more time to academy products Alvaro Morata, Nacho Fernandez and Jese Rodriguez, and the infusion of young Spanish talent into the first team has clearly been a priority this summer.
While it is still possible for Real Madrid to sign a “galactico” this summer, so far it is clear that there has been a concerted effort to promote and sign young Spanish players who will serve as the core of the team in a few years, be the core group of future on-field success and regain some of the lost connection between the club and its Spanish fans by giving them some players to identify and idolize as one of them.