Real Madrid did not bolster their squad with any signings in the winter window, manager Carlo Ancelotti stating that he believed that doing so would indicate bad planning. However it was confirmed by Rayo Vallecano President Raul Martin Presa that left-back Fran Garcia would be joining Los Blancos in the summer.
Garcia is just the latest case of a youngster to leave La Fabrica and spread their wings before returning to the Santiago Bernabeu, with varying degrees of effectiveness.
Famously, Martin Odegaard is currently thriving at Arsenal, but he did do enough in his loan spell with Real Sociedad to make it back. Meanwhile Mariano Diaz, still at the club, just about, left for Lyon and returned for a princely fee of €25m.
Those perhaps are not standard-bearer cases of their management, but in the case of Dani Carvajal they got things just right. Selling him to Bayer Leverkusen for €5m before buying him back for €6.5m after a season where he proved he could cut it. Lucas Vazquez also had a season at Espanyol, leaving for €500k, before returning for just €1m. It looks as if the same has been done with Garcia.
The other case interesting them currently is Takefusa Kubo. Sold to Real Sociedad for €6m, Los Blancos retain 50% of his sell-on fee and a first refusal, but crucially do not have a buy option. After two seasons of less than impressive performance on loan at Real Mallorca, Villarreal and Getafe, Kubo is finally delivering on his promise.
It appears that being forced to fight away from the pristine world of Valdebebas brings out more performance from talented youngsters. At least more than bringing them straight through the academy does.
Los Blancos have a relatively poor record of blooding youngsters straight from Castilla into the first team. Alvaro Morata is probably the last successful case, while Nacho Fernandez is the only example in the squad today.
Following a report from Fichajes that Athletic Club are looking to take Julen Jon Guerrero to the Basque Country, it is worth wondering if they should construct a similar deal to that of Vazquez or Carvajal.
Son of Athletic legend Julen Guerrero, Julen Jon has for the first time in his illustrious youth career found himself out of favor at Castilla under Raul Gonzalez. Now 18, Real Madrid have loaned him out to Amorebieta to get him some minutes.
However if Athletic Club do come for Guerrero, perhaps it would make sense to let him go – provided they can secure an affordable buyout clause.
Guerrero is regarded as one of the brighter talents in Spanish football at his age, but has struggled with the jump to Primera RFEF so far. Meanwhile, Athletic are chronically short of a striker.
This is not to say that Guerrero would immediately start at San Mames, but if they knew that he could be with them permanently, Athletic Club would likely blood him into the senior side and develop him into a first-team product. No club in Spain would arguably place more faith in him and his development.
If Athletic were to agree to such a clause, it might be an astute move to let him head north. Coming by opportunities in the first-team has proven a rather tricky task over the last decade.