Mesut Ozil’s signing continues Jose Mourinho’s youthful revolution at Real Madrid

So it was Real Madrid who brought an end to what appeared to be the last remaining transfer saga of the summer with the arrival of Mesut Ozil at the Bernebau.

The German playmaker, who was rumoured to be interesting both Manchester United and Chelsea has been the subject of much speculation after a star turn at the World Cup, but opted for a move to Real Madrid under Jose Mourinho.

Already a high class player – as Argentina and England discovered at the World Cup player-Ozil’s ability, and indeed potential value is further heightened by the fact that at 21 he is youthful enough to be likely to improve for some time yet.

These themes of youth and potential has indeed been a key part of Real Madrid and Mourinho’s spending strategy this summer.

Ozil is merely the latest in an ever growing list of Europe’s brighter prospects to turn up at the Bernabeu this summer, joining Angel Di Maria and Sami Khedira, along with home-grown duo Pedro Leon and Sergio Canales who have signed from Getafe and Racing Santander respectively.

None of them are older than 23, and all are likely to enjoy their best years at Real Madrid, as conceivably will the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Ezequiel Garay, Karim Benzema and Marcelo, all of whom are just 22.

Throw in the fact that Mourinho has already presided over the departure of veterans Christophe Metzelder, Guti and Raul, and that relative seniors Mahamadou Diarra and Rafael Van der Vaart are favourites to follow them, and there is a real sign of a coherent strategy aimed at reducing the average age of this squad this summer.

The one exception to this is Ricardo Carvalho, who at 32 is a relative pensioner compared to his fellow new signings, but the importance of Carvalho is not only what he offers on the pitch, but off it as well.

While the likes of Canales and Di Maria have both Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo to lean on in terms of experience, in contrast Real Madrid’s younger defenders have few mentors to guide them.

Carvalho, a Mourinho favourite since his days at Porto, is vastly experienced and one of the finest defenders of his generation, meaning he can act as a mentor to his relatively young colleagues.

This sustained interest in putting faith in young talent is rather ironic given that it is Mourinho himself has presided over such a strategy, especially given the success he had in building an experienced unit at Inter Milan.

There he strengthened often through experience, as his signings of Lucio, Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto’o last summer showed. While few young talents-bar the exceptional Davide Santon and Mario Balotelli-got much of a look in.

At Real it is a very different story, but one suspects that the reason for that may lie in the different model of club construction which Mourinho has in mind.

Rather than follow the blueprint of his days in Italy, what he is building in Madrid perhaps harks back to his formative days at Chelsea.

There, rather than simply building on an experienced, and successful, team which were already in situ as he found at Inter, Mourinho assembled an ever-developing team of players who had not yet reached their potential including John Terry, Didier Drogba, Arjen Robben and Frank Lampard, and turned them into winners.

At Real Madrid, a club which boasted a talented, if under-achieving group of players, Mourinho has another opportunity to do the same.

Thus this summer has been about adding to what he has, and setting in place longer term foundations which he hopes will eventually develop to become a force which will overhaul Barcelona in La Liga, and eventually conquer Europe once again.

The signing of Mesut Ozil is simply another piece which fits into this jigsaw, but adds further proof that Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid are looking to youth to build an even brighter future.

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Alex Stamp

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