Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Real Madrid Beat Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea and Man City To Sergio Canales

For those of you who don't know, Sergio Canales is the hottest young talent in Europe at the moment. The Racing Santander midfielder has put in some unbelievable performances this season, and news that he is out of contract in June has sent all of Europe's top clubs scampering to Cantabria...only for Real Madrid to sneak in and sign the player.

The 18 year old attacking midfielder, a product of the Racing Santander youth policy, broke into the Racinguistas first team this season.

His introduction to the masses came via a substitution appearance against none other than Real Madrid, and such was the quality of his play that the headlines the next day all centered around him, rather than the Galacticos of Madrid who won 1-0.

After making his debut in the UEFA Cup in 2008 against the strangely named FC Honka of Finland, Miguel Angel Portugal, Santander's manager, deemed him ready for a first team introduction.

Since then he has only been used partially, but this year he become a fully fledged member of the first team, despite Portugal taking a kids gloves approach.

In 11 games including five starts, Canales has scored an impressive five goals. Two of those came in Santander's impressive 2-1 win over Sevilla. The fact that the Sevilla defence are of Champions League standard caught many an eye. His first goal was a wonderful chip while his second was one of the coolest finishes you'll see this year as he rounded the 'keeper before dummying the defender on the line.

Performances like this marked him as a youngster of some potential, and the shock news that he was out of contract this summer meant that every major club in Europe came flocking to Cantabria.

Even Vicente Del Bosque, the Spanish team's national manager has become enamoured with the talented teenager, and suggested that South Africa could beckon for him if he continued to supply these kind of performances.

"Canales is enormously competent and his age isn't an impediment. The only problem is that the national team has an enormous depth in this position."

Earlier this season, before Canales had become a fixture in the Racing team, his father and agent tried to broker a new contract for his prodigious son. However, Santander knocked him back and refused to deal with them before June because as far as they were concerned Canales still had some way to go to merit a contract.

The reason for Santander's refusal to negotiate is as strange as it is unknown, but it may have something to do with the fact that Deportivo La Coruna own 50 percent of Canales' contract after a deal struck between the two clubs in 2006.

With the news that Real Madrid and Barcelona were closing in on the youth, representatives from Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Spurs, Bayern Munich, and Juventus amongst many others all made their interests known to Angel Canales.

The interest was welcomed with open arms with Chelsea and Arsenal believed to be in pole position for his signature before a huge offer from Manchester City gazumped the London pair.

However, the news that Canales was being chased by literally every major team in the Premiership drew Johan Cryuff to advise the youth.

"I don't know if he will end up signing for Madrid or not, or for any other big club. The only thing that I hope is that, being so young, he isn't ruined," he said.

"With the youngsters at Ajax who excelled in the first team and who were the targets of big clubs outside of Holland, my advice was always the same: stay at least until you are 21, and if you stay until 23, then even better.

"First get used to the pressure of winning in your own country, and that will then stand you in good stead for playing abroad.

"At 18 years old and with only a few games in the Primera Division, joining a big club is attractive, but it carries a risk because the destination is not the youth team.

"At 18 you have so much to learn, as a person and as a footballer, so if you leave for a big club too soon your development isn't complete and you could end up going backwards. So much so that you could end up being ruined. There are exceptions, yes, but that's what they are, exceptions.

"I already know that he (Canales) could sign (for a big club) and then go out on loan. That's a less aggressive option, but it also has its risks.

"Football is a short career, but not so short. If you have quality at 18 and you do things well, you have a mountain of years ahead of you.

"At 18 you don't need many zeros in your bank account. What you need is to play and develop. And if it is in the Primera Division, then better, and that is where he already is. There is time to earn money with a big team, especially if you are 18."

The sage advice seems to have been taken on by father and son alike as news has now filtered through that Canales will become a Real Madrid player in June. The deal has one caveat though...

Canales will remain with Santander on loan throughout the next two seasons as both Real and the player feel that first team football will be paramount for the teenagers development.

Los Blancos are said to have agreed a five-year contract with Canales, with Racing set to receive €6million compensation for a player who would be out of contract in the summer.

The loan move back to Santander, guaranteeing first team football, appears to have been the deal breaker. None of Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, or Barcelona were interested in sending him back to El Sardinero.

The deal would appear to be a fantastic one for all involved. There is no doubt that Canales will become an intergral part of the Racing team over the next two seasons. Had he chosen to stay at the Bernabeau, he would have, at best become a second team player where his education would have been stunted.

For Santander, the €6million is massive compensation for a 18 year old who could have walked away for far less come June.

Players of such potential have become common place in football these days, but what marks Canales out is his unbelievable work rate and passion for the Santander cause. If he can keep his feet on the ground, Real Madrid could have the next big thing on their books.