Carlo Ancelotti hailed English midfielder Jude Bellingham, who has been linked with a move to his Real Madrid team, but said Friday he has plenty of young talent at his fingertips already.
Los Blancos have three of the most exciting midfield prospects in world football in Aurelien Tchouameni, Eduardo Camavinga and Fede Valverde.
Borussia Dortmund’s Bellingham played well for England during the World Cup in Qatar until Gareth Southgate’s side were knocked out by Tchouameni and Camavinga’s France in the quarter-finals.
“Bellingham showed at the World Cup that he is a great midfielder,” Ancelotti told reporters on Friday ahead of his team’s La Liga clash with Villarreal.
“A lot of youngsters stood out, like Enzo (Fernandez) with Argentina, and the Spaniards Pedri and Gavi had a very nice tournament.
“There are a lot of young midfielders emerging but I’ll stick with mine. We have very good ones, Tchouameni, Camavinga, Valverde. We have a lot of youngsters.”
French duo Tchouameni and Camavinga finished as runners-up, defeated in the final by Argentina.
Bellingham’s deal with Dortmund expires in 2025 and the 19-year-old has been linked with various teams, including Spanish champions Madrid, who sold Casemiro to Manchester United last summer.
Long-serving Madrid midfielders Toni Kroos and 37-year-old Luka Modric have contracts which expire in the summer of 2023.
Los Blancos signed Camavinga, 20, from Rennes in 2021 and then last year brought in Tchouameni, 22, from Monaco.
Valverde, 24, joined Madrid’s youth ranks from Penarol in 2016, but has often been deployed on the right flank instead of in central midfield.
They are all establishing themselves at Madrid, who are level on points with league leaders Barcelona ahead of their first match of 2023, a tricky test at Quique Setien’s Villarreal on Saturday.
“They have changed a bit, they have a very clear identity, different from (Unai) Emery’s Villarreal,” added Ancelotti.
“Setien likes attacking football, their players are well positioned on the pitch. To win there, you have to be at your best.”