Any time a player becomes linked with Real Madrid in recent years, they are invariably only beginning their careers or coming into their peak years.
When Florentino Perez returned to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in 2009, it was his policy to sign players who still had their best years to offer, and the average age of his purchases has dropped to 23 – three years lower than that of his previous term.
The big-name signings of this second term have been Cristiano Ronaldo – 24 when signed – Kaka (27), Gareth Bale (24), James Rodriguez (23) and Toni Kroos (24).
With only the Brazilian exceeding a quarter of a century, the shift in focus is apparent from the first ‘Galactico’ era, when Zinedine Zidane (29), Luis Figo (27), David Beckham (28) and Ronaldo Nazario (25) were signed.
That first generation delivered just one Champions League success, while this current side already have three under their belts.
Furthermore, players have arrived at a reasonable cost and left for sizeable sums; Mesut Ozil, Angel Di Maria and Isco arrived not yet stars and completed their development at the Bernabeu before the former two were sold on for big money.
Not only have the signings gotten younger, but Madrid have turned their attention to integrating more of their own young players, too.
Confidence in youth
Once La Decima was won, there was no immediate pressure to win another Champions League so soon after, so Real could place their trust in young talent.
Marco Asensio’s signing is a perfect example, having joined Los Blancos at just 19, he looks set for stardom in the years to come having signed from Mallorca and enjoying a year on loan at Espanyol.
Vinicius Junior is another whose arrival is sealed, while Theo Hernandez is the next to be trusted in the first-team at 19.
All of this before considering their own academy, where Dani Carvajal will provide the evidence that progression from a prospect to a key player is possible.