Graduating from the Real Madrid youth ranks to the first team is no easy task, as Álvaro Morata learned. Could free-scoring Borja Mayoral – who Zinédine Zidane claims "scores every time he has a shot" – make the grade?
Name: Borja Mayoral
Club: Real Madrid
Debut: 31 October 2015 v Las Palmas (Liga)
Date of birth: 5 April 1997
Preferred foot: right
They say …
"He's a striker who scores every time he has a shot. He's a vital player for us."
Real Madrid Castilla coach Zinédine Zidane
Born in the suburbs south of Madrid, teenager Mayoral joined Real Madrid's academy aged ten and scored 102 goals in 77 games at Under-16 and U18 levels. Promoted to the reserve team, Real Madrid Castilla, towards the end of last season, he linked up with the first team on their pre-season tour and made his senior competitive debut in a 3-1 Liga win over Las Palmas, as a substitute for Toni Kroos.
Playing style …
An unapologetic scavenger, Mayoral is improving his all-round game, focusing on working off the ball, making runs from deep and taking on defenders. Two Madrid greats are providing inspiration. "I used to look up to Raúl [González] because he was always looking for loose balls and paying attention to everything that went on in the area," he says. "Then [Karim] Benzema came to Madrid and I studied how he played with his back to goal, and inside and outside the box."
Shades of …
Given his hunger for goals of all kinds, his deadly close-range reactions and his rapid ascent through Real Madrid's ranks, comparisons to Raúl are inevitable. Mayoral is not fazed though, saying that being likened to the three-time UEFA Champions League winner "makes him proud".
Eureka moment ...
Mayoral headed Spain's first goal in their 2-0 victory in the 2015 UEFA European U19 Championship final, his side avenging a 3-1 group-stage defeat by Russia to win the competition for a seventh time. Swiftly propelled into the U21 fold, he registered on his debut in the recent 5-2 success over Georgia.
Best-case scenario …
The youngest player in third-division Castilla's squad, the 18-year-old will seek to build on the three league goals he has scored and cement his place in Zidane's lineup, while the Copa del Rey may offer further first-team opportunities. More goals for the U21s as they target 2017 UEFA European U21 Championship qualification can only strengthen his case for senior game time.
He says …
"You always have to have your eye on the goal and I always do. I'm always in the area, alive to any rebound or loose ball, so I can score those scrappy goals which count the same as any others."
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