There are high hopes for Borja Mayoral at Real Madrid.
Back in 2015, the then Real Madrid Castilla coach Zinédine Zidane said of Mayoral: “He’s a striker who scores every time has has a shot. He’s a vital player for us.”
Real Madrid transfer rumours flying round at the moment are linking Los Blancos with a number of high-profile strikers, but do they have the answer to their striking options under their nose?
The 19-year-old was compared to the Real Madrid legend Raúl coming up the ranks at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.
Given the hunger he showed for scoring all kinds of goals and his rapid rise through the ranks, that is to be expected though.
Mayoral has addressed those comparisons, saying that being likened to the striking legend ‘makes him proud’.
That rise was quick – he only made his senior debut for the reserves in January 2015, before scoring his first goal for them on April 25 of that year.
Four days later, having amassed 43 goals for different youth teams over the season, Mayoral was an unused substitute in the first team’s 3-0 win over Almeria.
He finally made his debut for Real Madrid on October 2015, replacing Toni Kroos in a 3-1 win over Las Palmas.
The striker is yet to score for the first team, but he has gone close – on his first start in March 2016, his shot rebounded off Levante keeper Diego Mariño to find the back of the next.
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Despite his young age, he is already an under-21 international, scoring on his debut in the 5-2 win over Georgia.
The forward also headed Spain’s first goal in the 2-0 victory over Russia in the Under-19 European Championship final.
There is no doubt that Mayoral sees his future with the first team in the Spanish capital.
Speaking on Vippter, he says his Real Madrid debut was the highlight of his career so far.
“My best memory is when I made my debut at the Bernabéu against Las Palmas,” he said.
“And my big dream is to triumph at Real Madrid – I continue to work hard every day to try to make it a reality one day”.
But first, he’ll need to prove himself away from the glare of one of the biggest clubs in the world.
The 19-year-old knows that himself, and is currently playing his football on loan at Wolfsburg.
He said the only downside of his time in Germany is missing those back home –
“[I miss] my family, my friends… and the food,” he added.
“On the plus side, the stadiums here in Germany are always full, every weekend and the fans really get behind their teams.
“I had to leave Spain to continue growing as a player and that's why I joined Wolfsburg on loan.”
If he looks at players like Álvaro Morata – who’s now a crucial part of Zidane’s first team squad at the Bernabéu, he will see that they had to spend spells away from the Spanish capital before coming back.
The 24-year-old left for Juventus on a permanent deal, where he thrived, but was soon brought back after Madrid exercised a buyback clause they had inserted in his contract.
And if Mayoral is to succeed for Los Blancos, he should look to someone like Morata for inspiration.
While the Spanish international has a slightly better goalscoring rate than Mayoral for Real Madrid Castilla (45 in 83 league games compared to 17 in 38), the youngster should look at how he proved himself first at the B side, then elsewhere, before returning.
With his former B team manager Zidane now in charge of Real Madrid, Mayoral has an advantage that Morata didn’t have – the current coach knows his qualities.
And you can see the Frenchman isn’t averse to using players who’ve come through the youth ranks – Enzo Zidane, Marco Asensio and Mariano Díaz have all featured for his side this season.
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Not yet ready?
But despite that, Mayoral is not yet ready for the first team at Real Madrid.
In the Bundesliga, he is yet to properly assert himself at Wolfsburg.
The 19-year-old forward has made just three league starts this season.
He has just two goals in 16 appearances in all competitions.
There’s no way Real Madrid would consider buying a forward with a record of two goals in 16 games for a top-flight team.
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And Díaz, who played alongside or often came on for Mayoral, at Castilla, has struggled since becoming part of the first team in the summer.
Despite being 22, the Dominican only has four league appearances this season.
But Mayoral having played more than Díaz this season will give him an advantage when he comes back in the summer, but there is still a long way ago.
Yet, perhaps, given time at Real Madrid, which is not an easy thing to get, he could prove himself.
Mayoral’s shot accuracy rate of 57 per cent is just one per cent lower than that of Karim Benzema and Morata, and his rate of goals per 90 minutes is at 0.5 – Benzema’s is only 0.52 this season.
It’s clear he’s a talented finisher and has skills required to be a very good forward, but he will probably need to prove himself away from Real Madrid for another season or two before he gets his chance.