Real Madrid and Galacticos. The two seem to go hand in hand, and it is something that the world has been all too aware of over the past decade.
But is Real Madrid now entering into a new era in the club’s illustrious history?
“Galacticos” is a term used to describe Real Madrid’s policy under Florentino Perez to sign at least one high-profile star every summer in an attempt to create a world-class squad. But it appears as though things are changing in Madrid.
Newly appointed manager Carlo Ancelotti has already made several key changes within the Real Madrid squad, and he appears he's planning to make even more. But it is the type of moves that the Italian tactician is making that has Madridistas celebrating.
What we can now term “the Ancelotti Spanish youth movement” is in full swing, and it could change the very nature of Real Madrid from seasons past.
In recent seasons, fans have seen the arrivals of expensive stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane (now assistant manager). Every summer the world awaits the next chapter of the Galacticos project.
However, something is different at Real Madrid.
The football world surely expected Real Madrid to have completed a giant signing by now. Tottenham’s Gareth Bale had been rumored to be on his way to the club for some time, but nothing has come of the rumors.
In fact, in an interview with Univision, reported by Sky Sports, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez went as far to say, "He [Bale] is a great player who belongs to a club we enjoy good relations with, but we have not made any offer.”
For Real Madrid to not have at least made minor offers for the dynamic Welsh star is very unlike the business we have seen in the past decade-and-a-half.
This summer, Real Madrid has turned their sights elsewhere to strengthen the squad of Los Blancos.
Instead of focusing on a big-money signing such as Gareth Bale, Real Madrid has taken to the likes of Spanish youth to fill the holes in the current roster—a trend that may be just getting started.
Los Blancos began the summer by purchasing former academy right-back Daniel Carvajal, who left last year to join Bayer Leverkusen. The deal, as reported by Stefan Coerts of Goal.com, was for a set fee of €6.5 million.
Carvajal is not only a former academy graduate, but he is also 21 years old. It is believed that he will fight for the starting position in the coming season, and if his one year in Germany—32 Bundesliga appearances, 7.63 average match rating, per WhoScored?—is any indication, he will earn the role rather quickly.
The second purchase made by the club was the surprising move for Malaga golden boy Isco.
The argument could be made that Isco was the Galactico purchase of the summer, but it was not conducted in the same manner. After the deal was announced, Fox Sports reported that the fee was somewhere around €27 million.
Though Real Madrid did spend to get Isco, it is far from being the Galactico purchase Bale would be, what with the Tottenham star's reported £80 million price tag.
But Carlo Ancelotti may not be satisfied with the squad just yet. And while fans and pundits seek which high-profile striker may yet be coming to the Santiago Bernabeu, the club has again turned to Spanish youth to reinforce other roles on the pitch.
Duncan McMath of ESPN recently reported on an article from AS which claimed that Spanish U-21 star Asier Illarramendi and Real Madrid were close to reaching an agreement to bring the midfielder to the capital club. The 23-year-old would partner well with Xabi Alonso, but more importantly, he could succeed Alonso when he leaves the club in the not-too-distant future.
But the football world seems to still be waiting on this summer's big purchase. However, I do not believe a Galactico is coming.
The era of the Galacticos and a very free-spending Real Madrid may be ending soon. With financial fair play looming and a new Spanish talent popping up seemingly every day, the new age of a truly Spanish Real Madrid may be upon us.
Recent reports from Marca claim that Ancelotti is keen to find minutes for academy graduates such as Alvaro Morata, Jese and Nacho. The once-ignored Los Blancos Cantera may now be the symbol of the new age of Real Madrid.
When the new season begins, it is likely that the Real Madrid lineup will field only one Galactico: Cristiano Ronaldo.
The lineup and squad will likely be heavily Spanish and will once again be one of the youngest in the league. Though no one knows exactly what the future holds, all signs point to a turning of the page at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Is the Galacticos era slowly coming to an end? What does the arrival of Spanish youth mean for Real Madrid? Leave your thoughts and comments below.
Tre’ Atkinson. Follow me on Twitter for discussions on Real Madrid and all Spanish football.