Who doesn't love seeing an exciting youth product coming through to the first team?

In Spain, they seem to produce them en masse, with technically proficient youngsters emerging regularly.

The most famous production line is surely La Masia, with Barcelona cultivating the likes of Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi and, more recently, Gavi.

It understandably therefore gets overlooked just how many players come through the academy of Real Madrid, their fierce rivals.

La Fabrica – 'The Factory' – has produced some fine players down the years, including Emilio Butragueno, Raul and Iker Casillas.

Perhaps one of the reasons Madrid do not get the same credit as Barca for bringing through youngsters is because, quite often, their best graduates go on to spend their careers at other clubs.

And when Los Blancos make the short trip across the Spanish capital to face Atletico Madrid on Sunday, they will come up against some familiar faces.

Atleti head coach Diego Simeone has at his disposal five players who came through the youth system at Madrid.

Saul Niguez, Marcos Llorente, Mario Hermoso, Sergio Reguilon and Alvaro Morata were all La Fabrica players, although Saul actually moved to Atletico before making the step up to senior football.

In the Madrid squad, meanwhile, only four academy graduates players have made an appearance for Carlo Ancelotti's first team in Dani Carvajal, Nacho, Lucas Vazquez and Mariano Diaz.

This could be seen as a problem, but every player has to come through an academy somewhere, and even if Madrid do not always get the benefits of the talent they prepare, these youngers are often sold on for good money, allowing the club to spend big – a reputation that is far more widely acknowledged.

Madrid are not quite as flamboyant in the transfer market as in the peak years of the 'Galactico' era, but they still invest heavily in players ready to pull on the famous white shirt.

Rather than turn to their Castilla team in recent seasons, Madrid have splashed out on players of a similar age in young French midfield pair Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni, yet La Fabrica has played a key role in raising the funds to make those signings.

 

In 2020, for example, Madrid sold Achraf Hakimi, Reguilon, Oscar Rodriguez, Miguel Baeza, Javi Sanchez and Dani Gomez for combined fees in excess of €90million.

In the transfer window just gone, they moved on Borja Mayoral, Mario Gila, Miguel Gutierrez and Victor Chust for more than €20m.

In the case of Hakimi, he has gone on to thrive, having a tremendous year at Inter before making an even bigger move to Paris Saint-Germain, where he is now considered one of the best full-backs in the game.

Reguilon did not enjoy quite the same success at Tottenham, finding himself out of favour under Antonio Conte before being loaned to Atletico.

One might wonder if Hakimi could have instead been given a chance at the Santiago Bernabeu. He would have competed with or surpassed Carvajal by now.

Reguilon, while less of a sure thing, departed only after Madrid had spent around €50m on Ferland Mendy, leaving no clear path to succeed Marcelo at left-back.

Perhaps it is Madrid's loss, but these two players brought in significant fees, and their willingness to allow potential first-team stars to move on in search of regular football is almost admirable. Other clubs could be accused of hoarding players, allowing them only to leave on loan year after year while still never giving them a chance to make their mark at their parent clubs.

Of Madrid's current crop, Bruno Iglesias, Sergio Arribas, Peter Federico and the wonderfully named centre-back Marvel – write the superhero pun headlines now – appear the ones to watch.

Whether they ever turn out for the first team, or they end up moving on to career paths elsewhere, their education at La Fabrica should at least set them up for success wherever they land.

Who knows? They may even be likelier to be wearing a red and white shirt than a solid white one if they ever make an appearance in a Madrid derby.

The injury-riddled New York Yankees got one of their key pieces back Friday as they activated reliever Aroldis Chapman after missing nearly a month with a leg infection he sustained from a tattoo.

Chapman hasn’t pitched for the Yankees since August 19, but made one-inning appearances for Double-A Somerset on Monday and Wednesday.

''I thought he looked really good in his rehab outing the other day,'' manager Aaron Boone said. ''He's got to earn certain spots in there and try to get it in there. Hopefully he can be successful and throw the ball like he's capable of, because physically it's there.''

Chapman, a seven-time All-Star, is 3-2 with a 4.70 ERA and nine saves in 36 appearances this season. The flame-throwing left-hander lost his role as New York’s closer earlier this season after he missed nearly six weeks with tendinitis in his left Achilles.

The Yankees lost their opening game of a three-game series at Milwaukee on Friday, trimming their lead over the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East to five-and-a-half games. Eight pitchers were used by the Yankees, and Chapman was not one of them.

Albert Pujols was the star of the show on Friday night as he moved one step closer to becoming the fourth player to ever hit 700 home runs, connecting on number 698 in the St Louis Cardinals' 6-5 win against the Cincinnati Reds.

An RBI ground ball from Jonathan India, a two-run double from Jake Fraley and an RBI single from Aristides Aquino gave the Reds a 4-1 lead heading into the sixth inning, where sparks would fly.

The stars delivered for the Cardinals to rally back from the deficit, with NL MVP favourite Paul Goldschmidt leading off the inning with a double, before fellow NL MVP candidate Nolan Arenado drove him home with a single, bringing Pujols to the plate.

On the very first pitch, Pujols crushed a no-doubt home run sailing well over the left-field wall to tie things up, with his 427-foot shot travelling further than any ball he hit at this year's Home Run Derby, and leaving him with two required to reach 700. Only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) have hit more.

Kyle Farmer put the Reds back ahead with his own solo home run in the seventh inning, but later in that inning Goldschmidt and Arenado would combine again, with back-to-back doubles scoring a pair of runs to take a 6-5 lead.

Cardinals closer Ryan Helsley came in to finish the job, and he did it in style, striking out all three batters from only nine pitches for a rare immaculate inning. It was only the third immaculate inning in Cardinals history.

Alvarez hits 1329 feet worth of home runs

Yordan Alvarez was in rare form for the Houston Astros in their 5-0 shut-out win against the Oakland Athletics, hitting home runs in each of his first three at-bats to deliver a win in Justin Verlander's return from injury.

The AL Cy Young Award favourite made his way back from the 15-day injured list to throw five hitless innings, striking out nine batters and only allowing one walk.

Helping him out with the bat, Alvarez hit a 434-foot home run in the first inning, followed by a 431-foot shot in the third inning, and from the first pitch of his third at-bat he did it again, blasting the longest ball of the night with a 464-foot nuke to center-field.

With his three homers, Alvarez is now tied for the third most in the majors with 36, although he remains 21 behind league-leader Aaron Judge (57).

Yankees blow a five-run lead

The New York Yankees led 5-0 in the second inning against the Milwaukee Brewers before going down 7-6 on a walk-off hit from Garrett Mitchell.

After the Yankees jumped out to their big early lead, Willy Adames pegged back four of the runs by himself, with a three-run homer in the second inning and an RBI double in the fourth.

A fielding error in the eighth inning allowed the Brewers to take a 6-5 lead, before Josh Donaldson collected his third RBI of the game with a solo home run to tie things in the last frame.

But Yankees closer Clay Holmes could not force extra innings, giving up two hits and two walks, capped off by Mitchell's game-winning single.

Max Homa and Danny Willett are in a strong position to kick off the new PGA Tour season in style, tied for the lead at 12 under after two rounds of the Fortinet Championship.

Entering Friday's play, Homa was alone in second place two strokes behind leader Justin Lower, but when Lower shot a one-under 71, Homa capitalised and leapfrogged him with a five-under 67.

Starting on the back-nine, Homa was four under through his first six holes after an eagle on the par-five 16th, cooling off to post two birdies and one bogey from his next 12 holes.

Meanwhile, Willett was comfortably the best performer on the day, with his eight-under 72 coming in three shots better than anybody else in the second round. He went bogey-free with eight birdies.

Lower only slid down to a tie for third place at 10 under, where he is joined by An Byeong-hun.

There is a three-way tie for fifth at eight under consisting of Sahith Theegala, Matt Kuchar and Taylor Moore – with the latter two shooting back-to-back 68s.

Rounding out the top-10 is the American trio of Robby Shelton, Ben Martin and Brian Stuard at seven under.

After a strong start, Rickie Fowler could only post an even-par second round to remain at five under, while major champion Hideki Matsuyama finished two strokes inside the cut-line to qualify for the weekend, and Australian duo Jason Day and Cam Davis were not so lucky.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has come to the defence of record signing Jack Grealish, saying he is not being judged on how many goals and assists he creates during his time on the pitch.

Grealish, 27, arrived at the club last year in a £100million move that made him the most expensive British player in history, but has only been able to contribute six goals and four assists in a City shirt.

He has started one Premier League game this season, and both Champions League fixtures so far, although he has been substituted off in both continental games, including in this past week's 2-1 win against Borussia Dortmund.

Guardiola made an effort to shift the blame away from Grealish when his performance against Dortmund was questioned, pointing the finger at his supporting cast not making his life easier.

"He started really well, but had to stop for a problem in the ankle and we were lucky it was not worse," he said.

"Last game in the final third he was the only one up front who makes aggressive runs one against one, but [he couldn't] make assists [because] he didn’t have his mates in the box, so we left him isolated. When he goes against the full-back, only Erling [Haaland] was there.

"[Ilkay] Gundo[gan] was not there, Kevin [De Bruyne] was not there and they should be there. In the first half especially with the ball we didn’t make any movements to help the players who had the ball, and give him more possibilities to make it easier."

Guardiola added: "I know him and I’m more than happy and delighted with what he’s doing. Now… it's time to get back a little bit of his momentum that he had at the beginning of the season."

The manager with multiple Champions League titles was adamant that just goals and assists was not enough to judge a player like Grealish on, and shared what he is looking for out of the midfielder.

"We didn’t sign for the incredible goals or assists at Aston Villa," he said. "It was another reason, and when he played he did it.

"He competes with top, top players as well and he knows it perfectly, but never complains about that.

"He’s such a nice guy and in the games when he didn’t play, he’s the first to help the team and in the training sessions he’s always there. I’m delighted with his behaviour and everything.

"I want to make goals and I want to make assists and he does too, but it’s not about that. It’s about his contribution without the ball and what he can produce for the other ones and the many, many things that he’s able to do."

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert has been diagnosed with a rib cartilage fracture after getting injured in the fourth quarter of his team’s loss at Kansas City on Thursday night.

Chargers coach Brandon Staley said Herbert is day-to-day and is optimistic about playing in Los Angeles' Week 3 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on September 25.

"I think we got good news in terms of what the CT scan expressed," Staley said. "I think playing quarterback, you don’t want it to be the bones. The fact that it’s cartilage is a good sign.

"It’s just going to come down to comfort. We’re just gonna have to make sure that he’s comfortable. We’re not going to know more about how he feels until later on in the week."

Herbert was injured on a hit from Chiefs defensive end Mike Danna with about five minutes remaining in the Chargers’ 27-24 loss. The 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year left the field for one play before returning, and threw his third touchdown pass of the night on Los Angeles’ ensuing and final drive to lead a rally attempt that fell just short.

The third-year pro finished with 334 passing yards while completing 33 of 48 attempts with one interception, which Kansas City’s Jaylen Watson returned 99 yards for a pivotal touchdown earlier in the fourth quarter.

"You’re not going to see a quarterback at any level of football play tougher and do more for their team and will their team to give them a chance more than him," Staley said after the game. "He showed a lot of guts.

"He showed us what he shows every day, that we’re never out of the fight, and he brought us back and gave us a chance."

Veteran Chase Daniel would start against the Jaguars should Herbert require more time to heal. The well-traveled 35-year-old has made five career starts in 13 NFL seasons, most recently with the Chicago Bears in 2019.

Dustin Johnson leads the field by three strokes after the first round at LIV Golf Chicago, shooting a nine-under 63 in his first trip around Rich Harvest Farms.

The two-time major winner was nearly flawless as he put a decent gap between himself and second-placed Cameron Smith, going bogey free with nine birdies and nine pars as he consistently left himself with short putts.

Johnson's best run came from the sixth hole through to the 12th, where he collected six birdies over the space of seven holes.

Speaking after stepping off the last green, Johnson said he is in "a nice groove".

"My swing was really solid all day, hit it really close," he said. "I didn't have many long putts, but I holed a lot within 10 feet, and I struck it really well all day.

"Right now I feel like I've got my swing in a nice groove, so for me as long as I hit a couple balls every other day I can keep it there."

Alone in second is Smith with a bogey free six under, and one stroke away in sole possession of third is Matthew Wolff at five under.

Johnson has single-handedly pulled his team 4 Aces GC to the top of the leaderboard at 12 under – with team-mates Pat Perez at four over and Patrick Reed at two over – while Smith's Punch GC are in second place, with Matt Jones also pulling his weight to finish tied for fourth at four under.

Two Majesticks GC players are with Jones at four under – Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood – to leave them in third in the team standings.

Bryson DeChambeau and the Stinger GC pairing of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel round out the top 10 at three under.

It is one of the strongest starts to a LIV tournament for Phil Mickelson, who is tied for 11th at two under along with Brooks Koepka, Harold Varner III and seven others.

Qualifier Anna-Lena Friedsam backed up her victory over Emma Raducanu with a 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 quarter-final win over Diane Parry at the Slovenian Open.

After seeing off 2021 US Open champion Raducanu on Thursday, Friedsam continued her run with a superb comeback win to book her place in the semi-finals.

A rough start looked to have primed Friedsam for the exit door, but after prevailing in the second set, the 28-year-old pushed on to take herself within a match of a third career WTA Tour-level final.

She will have to wait to discover whether she will face defending champion Jasmine Paolini however, with the Italian's own quarter-final in Portoroz against Katerina Siniakova delayed until Saturday.

Third seed Elena Rybakina, meanwhile, will face Romania's Ana Bogdan after the Wimbledon champion was handed a walkover following Lesia Tsurenko's withdrawal.

Bogdan reached her second tour-level semi-final of the season by upsetting second seed Beatriz Haddad Maia, recording her 20th win over a top-20 opponent in the process, albeit her first since the 2018 Australian Open.

At the Chennai Open, 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova stunned Varvara Gracheva 6-4 6-3 to reach her first Tour-level semi-final.

Briton Katie Swan continued her impressive run with a 6-3 3-6 6-3 win over qualifier Nao Hibino and she will face Poland's Magda Linette, the highest-ranked player left in the competition, in the last four.

Fruhvirtova will go up against Nadia Podoroska, who came from a set down to defeat Eugenie Bouchard.

 

Carlos Alcaraz fell to a defeat to fellow youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime in his first match as world number one.

Alcaraz triumphed at the US Open on Sunday, beating Casper Ruud to clinch his first grand slam title and, in the process, become the youngest world number one since the rankings were first published in 1973.

The 19-year-old is the second-youngest male player to win the title at Flushing Meadows in the Open Era, and only the third player since the majors welcomed professionals in 1968 to win the US Open title at his first or second main draw appearance after Arthur Ashe and Rod Laver (in the first two editions of the tournament).

Yet back on home soil in Spain on Friday, Alcaraz was unable to claim victory in his first match since becoming number one, as he went down 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 6-2 to Auger-Aliassime in the Davis Cup Finals.

Canada's Auger-Aliassime did not concede a break point as he dragged his country level in their tie with Spain in Valencia, teeing up a doubles decider after Roberto Bautista Agut defeated Vasek Pospisil 3-6 6-3 6-3.

Auger-Aliassime, 22, has won both of his career matches against Alcaraz, after defeating him in the US Open quarter-finals last year.

David Beckham believes playing for and supporting England is the ideal opportunity for players and fans to celebrate the life of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen, who had reigned in the United Kingdom for 70 years, passed away at the age of 96 on September 8.

As the nation entered 10 days of national mourning, the Football Association (FA) announced the postponement of all fixtures, from professional to grassroots level.

That included the 10 Premier League matches scheduled for last weekend, while only seven top-flight games will take place this weekend due to logistical issues surrounding the late monarch's funeral, which will be held in London on Monday, September 19.

The Queen is lying-in-state until 06:30 BST on the day of the funeral, with thousands of mourners queueing in a line of around five miles through the streets of London in order to pay their respects.

Beckham, the former Manchester United, Real Madrid and England star, joined the queue on Friday, and with football now back – and with international fixtures coming up – the former Three Lions captain hopes the sport can help celebrate the Queen's life and reign.

"There should always be respect paid to our Queen and country in this time of mourning," he told reporters.

"But, speaking as an ex-football player, and an ex-England captain, I know what it meant to us to step out onto that field and to represent our Queen, and our country, and the Three Lions.

"And when we are out there, it gives us the opportunity to celebrate in a way that only football and its fans can."

England play Italy on September 23 before welcoming Germany to Wembley Stadium three days later for their final game before the Qatar World Cup, which starts in November.

A potential Paris Saint-Germain exit for Neymar was never on the table for the Ligue 1 giants, amid rumours Kylian Mbappe wanted him out, says sporting advisor Luis Campos.

The Brazil international endured a difficult 2021-22 campaign in the French capital, where he became something of a scapegoat for perceived shortcomings amid the fanbase.

That led to speculation that Mbappe, fresh from an extension that shut down a move to Real Madrid, wanted to move him on, with the younger star reportedly given a say in transfer dealings as part of his new contract.

But a superb start to the current term by the Selecao forward effectively quieted any discussions of a departure, and now Campos says there was never any talk over a move away for him.

"No," he told RMC Sport. "Neymar is a very good player. He arrives on time, all the time, and he hasn't missed training. He is involved in the team and the club project."

The Brazilian's resurgence has come under the guidance of a new face in the dugout, in the shape of Christophe Galtier, who appears to have trimmed the edges of the Mauricio Pochettino era from the club.

Campos joined the club as an advisor a month before the former Lille boss arrived from Monaco, and has waxed lyrical about what he brings to the team, revealing he told the latter of his own appointment before his family.

"When I was invited to take over this position, the first thing I did was call Christophe Galtier," he added. "[I did it] even before calling my wife and my mother!

"I know his values, his abilities, and what he can bring. We can work together, we have a great mission. We save a lot of time. You have to win quickly, and to win quickly, you have to have the right people with you."

Tottenham forward Richarlison has suggested his former club Everton have a "lack of ambition" as he explained his reasoning behind leaving Frank Lampard's team.

Everton finished 16th last season – their lowest Premier League placing since the 2003-04 season – only ensuring their status as an ever-present in the competition thanks to a 3-2 comeback win over Crystal Palace in their penultimate game.

Richarlison scored in that win and played a pivotal role in Everton's survival, netting six goals from the start of April. Having finished as the Toffee's top scorer, with 10 league goals, he was sold to Tottenham in June for an initial £50million, with potential add-ons taking the deal to £60m.

Everton's finances have been under scrutiny after their lavish spending under Farhad Moshiri, whose investment has not yielded desired results since he purchased a majority stake in the club in 2016, and a big sale was needed to help balance the books.

Though leaving Goodison Park after four years was still a difficult decision, Richarlison feels Everton lacked the ambition to challenge for honours.

"It's always a tough call when you have such strong connections with your club, and that was definitely the case for me," Richarlison told FourFourTwo.

"I was happy at Everton and I’m grateful for everything I learned there. It’s a big club with a lot of history. 

"However, perhaps they're suffering with a lack of ambition nowadays. You know, that eagerness to win matches and trophies.

"I spent four years there and I could see there was still a very long way to go to achieve big things.

"I felt it was the right time to move on, and the club also had to make some money. It was a good deal for everyone involved. I'm delighted with this new challenge at Spurs."

After a bright start to last season under Rafael Benitez, the former Liverpool manager who replaced Carlo Ancelotti following the latter's surprise return to Real Madrid, Everton tailed off badly as injuries and a loss of form combined.

Lampard took over from the unpopular Benitez in January, though struggled to get immediate results before finally finding a way over the line in May. Everton are yet to win in the league this season, though have shown promising signs in a run of four successive draws.

"It was a very stressful season, to be honest," said Richarlison, who is set to play a key role for Brazil at the upcoming World Cup.

"We had a lot of injuries and the squad wasn’t big enough to cope. I personally had some issues, too. 

"As soon as the previous Premier League campaign had finished, I played in the Copa America, then the Olympic Games, and then the Premier League started again. I had no break and sustained a few injuries during the season."

Richarlison has swiftly endeared himself to Spurs supporters and head coach Antonio Conte, who hailed the 25-year-old's versatility and application after a two-goal showing on his Champions League debut against Marseille.

Those goals are Richarlison's only ones in a Tottenham shirt, though he has provided two Premier League assists in his last two appearances in the top flight.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.