Real Madrid don’t have the best track record of producing from within, preferring to buy established stars rather than build them. Youngsters from the Real academy consequently suffer, eventually securing moves to other clubs for regular first-team football. Dani Carvajal is the latest to come through from the academy, fail to make the grade, perform elsewhere and earn a return back to Madrid.
One of the newest products of Spain’s youth development is Daniel Carvajal. He was born on 11th January 1992, in Leganes and grew up in Madrid as a Real supporter. When Daniel Carvajal was seven, he joined the local team ADCR Leman’s. He played for the youth team for three years and then joined Real Madrid, still a young boy. He played for the youth ranks until he reached the Real Madrid Castilla side in 2010. In his first season at Castilla, he was directly promoted to play in the first eleven and was appointed as the captain of the team. In his second season at Castilla, He played in 38 games and helped them to reach the Segunda Divison in Spain after a five year absence. He was also part of the Spanish U-19 European Championship winning team.
He just played one official game with Real Madrid, before he moved to Bayer Leverkusen signing a 5-year-contract for a transfer fee of €5million. Real Madrid though, as they do with all their youngsters, retained the rights to re-sign him based on a clause in his contract. The youngster impressed in his debut Bundesliga season and was regarded as one of the best right-backs in the league, alongside the likes of Philipp Lahm. The Spanish giants were so impressed with his performances in Germany that they decided to exercise the buy-back clause in his contract, re-signing him for €6.5 million.
Daniel Carvajal has played for the Spanish U-18, U-19 and U-21 side, making 15 appearances in total . At this stage, it is hard for him to play for the National team. Sergio Ramos and Arbeloa are the popular options for the right back spot. If he continues to perform in this way though, he can become a regular player in the national team squad.
Dani Carvajal was voted as the Defender of the Season, by our Readers at our inaugural #TalentRadar Young Player Awards, while also making the Readers’ Team of the Season.
Style, Strengths & Weaknesses
He is a typical Spanish full-back- small, fast and full of attacking spirit. He prefers to support the attack with his crosses, forward runs and passes. He constantly moves down the right wing and contributes in the final third of the pitch. On of off-the-ball, Carvajal is constantly running, constantly pressing the opponents. One-two passes are a regular feature of his play; Bundesliga fans will remember his goal against Hoffenheim after a series of one-two passes with the strikers.
As soon as they get the ball back, he prefers to drive through the opponent’s half of the field and serve as the extra man in the attack. He is a good passer, with 79% completion accuracy. In total 60.3% of his passes were played forward. Only 39.7% of them were played backwards or laterally. This is another statistic that proves his attacking playing style and potential for the future as an attacking full-back. He has decent technique and can reflect this on the field in terms of first touch, ball control and passing ability.
His other strength is his ability to regain his position after his team loses the ball, showcasing his energy to get back into his right-back slot. His speed in tracking back is one reason for his great success from tackles.
As much as he is an attack minded full-back, he is really good in a defensive sense as well, his reading of the game when it comes to interceptions is particularly commendable.
His mentality is one of his strengths. He is still a part time student at a Spanish University and makes great efforts to learn German. These two facts show us that he is always trying to improve both as a person and player. Being the captain of the Castilla side at a young age helped develop his mentality further and complement his leadership. His mentality should be an example for every player, not just young players. He is consistent, and can play throughout a season. Last season he was a part of 32 matches, missing just two games. At an early age, consistency is necessary. In these 32 matches he managed to produce 8 assists and score one goal.
Like every young starlet, Carvajal has some areas he needs to improve. He needs to be more focused in the games. You can see that sometimes he loses his concentration and is inclined to make mistakes on the pitch. The other area is his discipline. He has picked up 10 yellow cards last season, and needs to work to decrease the number.
He won 55% of duels that he has been part of which it is not good enough for a defender. He has an 83% success rate from tackles which isn’t bad at all but the success rate from headed duels is 48%, due to his lack of height. He makes better contributions in attack than in defence, he needs to balance his game by defending more effectively. His lack of successful duels affect other departments of his game.
Dani Carvajal is a fairly short player and this affects his ability to challenge aerially. Ofcourse this also restricts him in attacking & defending set-pieces, but full-backs are rarely used inside the area for an attack.
His weaknesses are solvable, and if you consider his mentality he will definitely work on it and become a better player next season.
Real Madrid have activated the option to buy him back from Bayer Leverkusen for €6.5 million. The restructuring in Real Madrid could be the end of Arbeloa’s era and start Carvajal’s era in the first team. Newspapers say that president Florentino Perez wanted him back at Madrid, but the player had hesitated to go back to Madrid because of less playing time. He was a starter at Bayer Leverkusen and if he had stayed he would have been a major part of the team in the Champions League, but Real Madrid is his boyhood club. Despite being a regular in Leverkusen’s successful campaign, Daniel isn’t guaranteed a spot in the first-team. He may get lost in the immense depth at the Madrid club.
In my opinion, he should have stayed at Bayer Leverkusen and allow his development to take place. Now, he has to prove himself again at Real Madrid where the pressure will be much more; something which is difficult for a youngster to handle.
Daniel Carvajal has all the skills to make it as a top-footballer. With a few more games at the highest level, he has the ability to even get into the Spanish first team. The 2013/14 season, with a move back to Real Madrid secured, could be a defining moment in Daniel Carvajal’s young career.
UPDATE: Daniel Carvajal returned to Real Madrid.
This article was written by Mert Conker. You can follow him on twitter @Mertconker.