A recent report from MARCA has offered key insights into Juni Calafat’s time at Real Madrid, as the chief scout of the club.
The 49-year-old is considered one of three main figureheads at Real Madrid, along with Florentino Perez and Jose Angel Sanchez. He is the brains behind the club’s operation to sign talents such as Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo.
Although Calafat has no footballing background, he has a great deal of influence in Brazilian football. He is also very persistent and more often than not, manages to convince the other Real Madrid bosses of his transfer choices.
One such instance saw him convince Real Madrid to buy Eder Militao in 2019 even though the other authority within the club had preferred the signing of Matthijs de Ligt.
The Dutchman was a hot prospect in the transfer market at the time, especially after an excellent campaign with Ajax, where he had helped the club reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
But thanks to Juni Calafat’s influence, Real Madrid ended up signing Militao, which has proven to be a wise choice for the club.
While Militao did initially endure a slow start to his career at Santiago Bernabeu, the Brazilian has grown by stature in recent years. He is now considered the main defensive lynchpin in the team, having already featured in almost 100 matches for Los Blancos.
Militao’s performances have improved significantly as well, with the Brazilian showcasing exceptional leadership, experience and ability to read the game. These qualities have helped him build a formidable partnership with David Alaba, ultimately making Real Madrid one of the most defensively astute teams in La Liga.
Hence, the reigning Spanish champions only have Juni Calafat to thank for their pursuit of Militao. As for de Ligt, the Dutchman has not quite managed to live up to the expectations and is currently plying his trade for Bayern Munich, hoping to speed up his progress under Julian Nagelsmann.
Key Real Madrid defender still not 100% fit ahead of Club World Cup semi-final – report
Carlo Ancelotti heads into the FIFA Club World Cup in a pressure cooker situation. The pressure on the manager’s shoulders is immense, for his job could be on the line after Real Madrid’s poor run of form.
The injury situation does not favour the Italian tactician either. Lucas Vazquez, Ferland Mendy, Karim Benzema, Eder Militao and even Thibaut Courtois are out of the semi-final against Al Ahly, leaving him very few options to play with.
According to reports from Jorge C Picon, David Alaba too is not completely fit yet. The Austrian International was given the medical all-clear and entered the squad for Real Madrid’s game against Mallorca, yet started on the bench as he was not at 100%, and that remains the case ahead of tonight’s clash.
The report, however, adds that his mere inclusion in the squad comes as a breather for Ancelotti. Alaba is highly valued by the technical staff, not only for his reading of the game on the field but also for his leadership.
The defender has already missed seven games for Los Blancos since sustaining a muscular injury against Villarreal at La Ceramica. He did indeed come off the bench for under half an hour against Mallorca, but will likely not be risked to start on Thursday.
In his absence, Nacho Fernandez and Antonio Rudiger are expected to take centre stage in defence in Morocco. Eduardo Camavinga, meanwhile, could start as left-back again.
Alaba has played 17 games for Los Blancos this season and was one of the players with the most minutes until his injury. In his league campaign so far, he has scored one goal and provided three assists while also averaging a key pass every ninety minutes.
It remains to be seen if the Austrian recovers completely in time for the Club World Cup final should the European Champions make it. As it stands, using a cautious approach is in Real Madrid’s best interest.