La Liga

Scouting report: Sergio Canales

How quickly a star can be born; a couple of months ago few in England would have been familiar with Sergio Canales but now the young Spaniard is one of the hottest young properties in Europe with Chelsea and Manchester United said to be amongst the teams interested in signing the teenager who plies his trade with his local club Racing Santander.

Canales broke into Racing’s first team last year as a 17 year old and made his debut in September 2008 but his appearances for the first team were limited and Canales made just 8 appearances in all competitions over the season, looking promising but not looking particularly special. Indeed it wasn’t until this season that the teenager started to show signs of greatness. Canales has made just nine appearances this season but they include five goals, including a brace against high-flying Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, and dominant performances from the heart of midfield. His pushing forward, dribbling and passing have all looked impressive and he has a fine shot on him. It’s common in football for youngsters to be compared to current or old greats and Canales is no exception, being compared to Arsenal ace Cesc Fabregas as a driving midfield playmaker.

Interest in Canales is high with Chelsea and United joining a list of fans which includes Real Madrid, Sevilla, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich and a host of others. Reports in Spain claim a deal’s already done though with Real Madrid expected to pay a fee of around £8 – 10 million to sign him in the summer and then they’d promptly loan him back to Racing for about a year. Canales was due to have his contract expire this summer but Real are willing to do things Racing’s way and will give them a substantial deal to compensate the loss of the youngster. Canales was also co-owned by Deportivo but his expiring contract means that their share of the takings may be lost due to the end of their lease on him.

The deal is yet to be announced publicly though and Racing have claimed the move is just speculation and thus other sides still fancy their chances to get him. The clean cut teenager is reportedly a big fan of the Premier League and thus the English giants are hopeful they’ll be able to snatch him away from Real’s clutches to bring him to England to give Fabregas a run for his money. Indeed, Arsenal have even been linked and the idea of Canales linking up with Fabregas has to be mouth watering. Canales’ father had previously said

“I won’t discount any option. My son will go to a club where he will play plenty of football. That’s what interests us.”

Canales senior’s words give optimism to the chasing pack. Questions could be asked however over whether Canales should leave his boyhood team at such a young age when they could yet offer him a lot more. Staying has been recommended by Dutch legend Johan Cruyff who said

“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. 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.”

Cruyff’s words are likely to be ignored as the pressure of the interest coming in from so many directions will lead to a move sooner rather than later. It will surely be no problem for such a talented midfielder though and, wherever he goes, Canales looks likely to make something of himself.


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