Full-back is a problem position for many of the world’s top sides these days – and those below them – but there is a distinct sense that Real Madrid are reaching the end of their tether with their first-choice options.
On the right-hand side, Dani Carvajal has been both injury-prone and inconsistent for some time. While at his best he is amongst the elite, that comes far too infrequently these days.
On the left, Ferland Mendy has been limited going forward, but solid defensively for the most part. Yet several high-profile errors have robbed him of that image and there has been the suggestion that he might be replaced.
Major signings like Alphonso Davies and Josko Gvardiol have been mentioned as alternatives, but both would be extremely expensive. Other, cheaper alternatives have been mentioned, including former Real Madrid Castilla product Fran Garcia.
“In my house, since we were little, we are all Real Madrid fans,” Garcia recently told RadioMarca (via Estadio Deportivo).
“My friends send me a message when something comes up and ask me if I have anything to tell them. The fact that you are associated with the club of your life is just the tip of the iceberg of all the work behind it, but of course it makes you very excited.”
Clearly the 23-year-old would be keen to return to his boyhood club. With a release clause of just €10m, Real Madrid still retain 50% of his rights, meaning he would set them back just €5m. Garcia could be used as a useful option to compete with Mendy.
Moving to Rayo Vallecano on loan initially in Segunda, Rayo would buy him outright for just €2m when they won promotion to La Liga. Garcia had quickly become a crucial part of Andoni Iraola’s side, which prioritises width and full-backs that stream forward.
The impressive three campaigns under Iraola have featured Garcia as an integral part of operations. Already he has made 102 appearances for Rayo in just two-and-a-half seasons, contributing 3 goals and 8 assists.
Possessing an excellent engine, Garcia’s speed and agility make him a constant threat down the left, over or underlapping his winger.
This season he ranks sixth in La Liga for touches, ninth for interceptions and ninth for crosses, which shows how key he is to a Rayo side that outplayed Real Madrid at Vallecas. During the last two seasons, he has also made the top ten for crosses into the box.
Technically, he is not at the level of the likes of David Alaba, but he can hold his own. Without the ball, he also stands out less, although he is both defensively competent and difficult to beat in one-on-ones.
It is true that he would probably operate better in a team that looks to press high and further away from the goal, as he does with Rayo.
Given Real Madrid currently only have Nacho Fernandez or David Alaba to back up Ferland Mendy, Garcia would at least be useful as competition for the Frenchman. At his price and age, Garcia would be a sound investment that they could likely sell-on at a profit. Additionally, the fact he is a Real Madrid fan adds a little edge to an already mentally strong player.
Garcia could perhaps compete with Mendy and maybe even win the battle to be Real Madrid’s starting left-back. There is no escaping the fact he has limitations with and without the ball at this point though, and he is unlikely to be the perfect solution that Madridistas might seek. Given the circumstances of the deal, he represents an excellent opportunity though.