Real Madrid’s 21-year-old forward Juanmi Latasa has said that for him, Karim Benzema is currently the best forward in the world, adding that even watching him during training sessions is a ‘pure spectacle’.
Latasa, currently on loan to Getafe, joined Real Madrid in 2016 and over the years, has had the experience of playing alongside some of the best players in the sport. And in a candid interview with MARCA, he shed light on several aspects, including his conversation with Castilla manager Raul.
But when asked about Benzema, he said, “Without a doubt, [he is] the best striker in the world right now. Watching him train is a pure spectacle. When you play with him, it helps you, makes you feel comfortable and makes everything easier.”
He also remembered the one advice that the Frenchman gave him during one of the training sessions.
“He comes and goes to receive the ball, which he does perfectly; the go-come to take off the defender. I remember that he told me: “Do that and you’ll be fine.,” he explained.
Despite making a solitary senior appearance for Real Madrid, Latasa was a subject of strong interest between Rayo Vallecano and Getafe. So when asked about why he picked the latter, he said,
“It is true that it has been a long summer, with different offers. Between my agent and my family, we decided between staying another year or leaving. We believed that the best thing for my growth was to go out and gain experience in the First Division.”
“Why Getafe? For the treatment of the sports management and for the stability that Getafe showed me as a club. It is very serious and I noticed that I was going to feel very comfortable, as it has been since I arrived. I’m very happy,” he added.
Meanwhile, he also credited Real Madrid for making him the player he is today. “It was six years that gave me everything, I am where I am because of Madrid. It was a very thoughtful decision and it was the right one.”
He also remembered his first encounter with the senior team, saying that it was something he will always remember.
“I have many [memories], but the most memorable was when I was little and we said goodbye to the first team, who let us go up to their residence and we said goodbye to them before they got on the bus for the Champions League matches,” he explained.
Upon being asked who he was going to see with more enthusiasm, he added, “To many, obviously. From Cristiano, logically, to Karim. To the Spaniards too, the youth players, who are the reflection we had: Carvajal, Nacho.”
Latasa also remembered the conversation he had with Raul before leaving. He said that the former Real Madrid striker made a big mark on his career.
“I only spoke with Raul, surely the coach who has marked me the most. I have had very good coaches, like Alvaro Benito and Manu Fernandez. With Raul, I have made the definitive leap as a footballer and striker in professional football, the one that has really made me grow.
“He understood, he agreed. He wanted the best for Castilla, but he also understood that I had to keep growing,” said the 21-year-old.
The young forward made his senior team debut in May 2022 against Cadiz under Carlo Ancelotti. So when asked about the difference in style of play between Real Madrid and Getafe, he explained,
“They are different styles. I’m a centre forward, I live off goals and that doesn’t change much. Getafe is more defensive, we defend more than in Madrid and I think I’m helping a lot with that.”
It’s interesting to note that Getafe have a purchase option in Latasa’s loan deal. Regarding the same, the 21-year-old admitted that he is not thinking about it much. All he is looking forward to is progress.
“Both the club and I meditated on the situation and we thought that the best thing was to grow in the First Division, to have this opportunity that not everyone has. We had to take advantage of it. Now I’m in a master’s degree, learning day by day.
“The farewell is always sad, but the motivation to continue growing in the First Division weighs more,” he said.
With Getafe facing Real Madrid this weekend, Latasa was also asked if his current team had specific plans for Vinicius Jr, who has been in top form this season. In response, he said:
“No, the truth. I am not the side that has to cover him either. I have seen his evolution, little by little, and it is incredible. This preseason has surprised me with the confidence he has gained, in the one-on-one he goes all out, it is very good, and then the definition, which is now very good.”
La Liga president says Real Madrid won’t have issues with Mbappe salary, praises Bellingham: “Best in the world”
Javier Tebas may be at war with Florentino Perez over the Super League, but the La Liga president has always been a vocal supporter of Real Madrid.
Not too long ago, he spoke extensively about Real Madrid’s possible signings of Kylian Mbappe and Alphonso Davies, going as far as to state that the Frenchman might have already signed a deal with Los Blancos.
Speaking at the Football Business Summit in London recently, Tebas once again unravelled many questions about Real Madrid’s financial situations while also touching upon Kylian Mbappe and Jude Bellingham.
On finances and Mbappe
He began by praising Los Blancos for navigating their finances with utmost caution during the crucial years of the pandemic in addition to their splendid revenue generation as revealed by Mundo Deportivo.
“Real Madrid have had a very optimal management, before, during and after the pandemic. Madrid have been earning an average of €30 million per year in the last ten years at least.”
“I don’t know what they are going to pay Mbappé, but knowing their financial situation, they are not going to have a problem paying him. I think it will be much less than what PSG pays him,” he added on the speculated arrival of Mbappe.
Speaking about how Real Madrid are able to make such massive signings while other clubs in the league continue to struggle to meet La Liga’s spending limits, the league president said,
“They have removed two large salary burdens in recent years, Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale. And then they incorporated players with not-so-high investments.
“Real Madrid have then had great benefits, they achieved a significant reduction in the salaries of the players.”
Tebas further stressed the fact that Real Madrid’s financial situation was so rosy that they could invest massive amounts in squad reinforcements without facing any repercussions for the same. He insisted that it was not a bias in any way but a reward for a team that managed situations well.
“We can’t limit the one who is doing well. According to January data, Madrid could invest €700 million euros in transfers. They will not spend that at all, but the situation is so good that they could.”
Praise for Bellingham
Finally, the Spanish administrator praised Real Madrid star Jude Bellingham for his imperious form this season and went as far as to call him the best player in the world.
“Bellingham is currently the best player in the world, for his fitness and his way of playing. It is very important for us to have the best, even if you don’t always have everyone, to grow and for everything.”
“If we are all honest, he has exceeded everyone’s expectations and we hope that he will continue like this for many years,” he concluded.