Real Sociedad cantera

The cantera (quarry) of Spanish professional football club Real Sociedad is the organisation's youth academy, developing players from childhood through to the integration of the best prospects into the adult teams.

Real Sociedad (youth system)
Real Sociedad logo.svg
Full nameReal Sociedad de Fútbol, S.A.D.
Nickname(s)Txuriurdin (White and Blue)
Erreala / La Real (The Royals)
GroundZubieta Facilities,
San Sebastián,
Basque Country, Spain
PresidentJokin Aperribay
CoachJon Mikel Arrieta
LeagueDivisión de Honor
2018–19División de Honor, Gr. 2, 2nd

The final category within the youth structure is the Juvenil A (Basque: Gazteak A) under-18/19 team which represents the club in national competition. The successful graduates then usually move to the club's reserve teams, Real Sociedad C or Real Sociedad B, which are also considered part of the cantera due to being a stage in progression towards the senior team, albeit competing in the adult league system.

The academy is based at the club training complex, Zubieta, which is often the name used informally to refer to the system itself.

Background and structureEdit

Álvaro Odriozola is a recent example of a player who joined the club at a young age, moved through the youth levels and established himself in the senior team

The top football clubs in the Spanish leagues generally place great importance in developing their cantera to promote the players from within or sell to other clubs as a source of revenue, and Real Sociedad is no exception. Until the late 1980s, the club operated a Basque-only player recruitment policy but abandoned this in order to remain competitive;[1][2][3][4][5][6] however their youth recruitment network is still focused around their home region of Gipuzkoa and there are collaboration agreements in place with the small clubs in the region, assisted financially by the regional government.[7][8] In 2013, it was noted that 22 of the 23 members of the Juvenil A squad that season were from Gipuzkoa.[9]

Most of the senior team players in recent seasons are youth academy graduates:[5][6] 15 of the squad in 2014 (as per analysis from the CIES Football Observatory).[10] In 2016, Real Sociedad's total of 16 'homegrown players' (as per UEFA guidelines: three years of training between 15 and 21 years old) still at their formative club was the second-highest across Europe's 'big five' leagues, significantly more than all other elite clubs apart from neighbours Athletic Bilbao.[11][5][6] Moreover, further end-of-year analysis demonstrated that these graduates were not merely backup squad members but integral elements of the team, involved in 50% of the minutes in the 2016–17 La Liga, where they finished 6th.[12] With the inclusion of nine former trainees at other eligible clubs, Real's total of 25 homegrown players ranked as the fifth-highest across the continent, although only third in Spain behind Real Madrid and FC Barcelona who retained just a few of the many high-level professionals they produced.

Real Sociedad's good standing in La Liga since being promoted back in 2010 – including qualifying for the 2013–14 UEFA Champions League – was achieved using a large proportion of homegrown players,[5] with the vast majority of those hailing from the local region (which has a population of just 715,000, a small catchment area for an elite football club, and with that potential pool of talent drained further by frequent swoops for the best youngsters by Athletic Bilbao),[13][2] indicating a high standard of coaching and development of the young players at their disposal. A notable exception to this local focus was Antoine Griezmann from France who was integrated into the setup at a young age after his potential was identified by Real staff at an event;[14] in 2014 he left the club for a transfer fee of €30 million.[15]

Youth graduate Iñigo Martínez's departure in 2018 earned the club a €32 million fee.

The core of boys from the Gipuzkoa region are first introduced into the Zubieta Alevín teams at around 10 years of age and advance by an age group every season through Infantil, Cadete and Juvenil levels. The players who are retained by Real after their Juvenil A spell (aged about 17) would typically join Real Sociedad C – a 2016 addition to the club structure[16] – with that squad normally expanded further with some signings from the regions's youth clubs such as Antiguoko, a small San Sebastián team who regularly challenge the professional youth teams for the title in their División de Honor group.[17][18] The players usually spend one or two seasons at Real C before the best are promoted to the reserve team Sanse and then on to the senior team when considered ready to do so.

In addition to Griezmann, the Real Sociedad youth system produced three other players during the 2010s who commanded large transfer windfalls when they departed: Asier Illarramendi moved to Real Madrid in July 2013 for €32.2 million[19] only to return two years later for around half that amount;[20] in January 2018, Iñigo Martínez signed for rivals Athletic Bilbao after they paid his €32 million release clause fee;[21][22] in July of that year, Álvaro Odriozola also moved to Real Madrid for a fee reported to be €30 million plus €5 million of conditional add-ons.[23]

National competitionsEdit

The Juvenil A team play in Group II of the División de Honor Juvenil de Fútbol as their regular annual competition. Their main rivals in the league group are Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna. The under-17 team, Juvenil B or Easo (named after a nickname for San Sebastián which itself derives from the nearby Roman town of Oiasso), plays in the Liga Nacional Juvenil de Fútbol which is the lower division of the same structure.

The team also regularly participates in the Copa de Campeones and the Copa del Rey Juvenil, qualification for which is dependent on final league group position. In these nationwide competitions the opposition includes the academy teams of Barcelona, Atlético Madrid, Sevilla and Real Madrid.

International tournamentsEdit

In 2012–13 Real Sociedad's senior team qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stages, meaning that the Juvenil squad could play in the 2013–14 version of the UEFA Youth League.[24][25] They finished top of their group in the competition but were eliminated from the knockout stage by Schalke 04.

In the subsequent years there has been no further chance to participate due to the senior team failing to qualify. The alternative route into the Youth League would be to win the previous season's Copa de Campeones but Real Juvenil have so far been unable to achieve this.

Head coachesEdit

The coaches[26] are often former Real players who themselves graduated from Zubieta, which is also true of Loren Juarros, the club's former director of football[27] who held the post from 2009[28] until 2018.[29]

Squad Age Coach Tier League
Juvenil A 16-18 Jon Mikel Arrieta 1 División de Honor (Gr. II)
Easo 16-17 Unai Gazpio 2 Liga Nacional (Gr. IV)
Cadete A 15-16 Gorka Valle 1 Cadete Liga Vasca
Cadete Txiki 14-15 Egoitz Etxarri 2 Cadete División de Honor

Juvenil AEdit

As of December 2018 [30]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
GK   ESP Gaizka Ayesa
GK   ESP Unai Marrero
DF   ESP Unai Arrieta
DF   ESP Álex Carbonell
DF   ESP Yago Cantero
DF   ESP Jon Pacheco
DF   ESP Ander Zoilo
DF   ESP Urko González de Zárate
DF   ESP Markel Goñi
DF   ESP Jon Ander Obeso
DF    SUI Miguel Manso
MF   ESP Imanol Galarreta
No. Pos. Nation Player
MF   ESP Ander Pérez
MF   ESP Iñaki Recio
MF   ESP Peru Ruiz
MF   ESP Ibai Salaberria
MF   ESP Jakes Gurrutxaga
MF   ESP Ander Martín
MF   ESP Julen Zubillaga
MF   ESP Iker Kortajarena
MF   ESP Jon Magunazelaia
FW   ESP Julen Lobete
FW   ESP Ander Barrenetxea

Juvenil B (Easo)Edit

As of December 2018[31]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
GK   ESP Egoitz Arana
GK   ESP José Ortega
DF   FRA Julen Arotçarena
DF   ESP Urko González de Zárate
DF   ESP Eneko Azurmendi
DF   ESP Peru Rodríguez
DF   ESP Kerman Sukia
DF   ESP Aritz Muguruza
DF   ESP Axier Zeberio
DF   ESP Sasti San Martín
DF   ESP Jon Gorrotxategi
DF   ESP Igor Irazu
No. Pos. Nation Player
DF   ESP Beñat Elkorobarrutia
MF   ESP Kaiet Agote
MF   ESP Unai Telletxea
MF   ESP Beñat Turrientes
MF   ESP Ander Irigoien
MF   ESP Asier Ortiz de Guinea
MF   ESP Beñat Almadoz
MF   ESP Jon Balda
MF   ESP Alberto Dadie
FW   ESP Unai García
FW   ESP Jon Karrikaburu
FW   ESP Haimar Marcos

Season to season (Juvenil A)Edit

Superliga / Liga de Honor sub-19Edit

Seasons with two or more trophies shown in bold[32]

Season Level Group Position Copa del Rey Juvenil Notes
1986–87 1 N/A 14th N/A Relegated
1987–88 2 2 1st N/A 4th in playoff group, not promoted
1988–89 2 2 1st N/A 2nd in playoff group, not promoted
1989–90 2 2 1st N/A 1st in playoff group, not promoted
1990–91 2 2 1st N/A 1st in playoff group, not promoted
1991–92 2 2 2nd N/A 1st in playoff group, not promoted
1992–93 2 2 1st N/A 2nd in playoff group, not promoted
1993–94 2 2 2nd N/A
1994–95 2 2 2nd N/A No promotion due to restructuring

División de Honor JuvenilEdit

Seasons with two or more trophies shown in bold

*Season* Level Group Position Copa del Rey Juv. Copa de Campeones Europe/notes
1995–96 1 2 2nd Quarter-final N/A N/A
1996–97 1 2 1st Quarter-final 3rd in group of 3
1997–98 1 2 1st Round of 16 Winners
1998–99 1 2 1st Round of 16 Winners
1999–00 1 2 3rd Round of 16 N/A
2000–01 1 2 4th N/A N/A
2001–02 1 2 2nd Quarter-final N/A
2002–03 1 2 4th N/A N/A
2003–04 1 2 2nd Quarter-final N/A
2004–05 1 2 4th N/A N/A
2005–06 1 2 3rd Quarter-final N/A
2006–07 1 2 2nd Semi-final N/A
2007–08 1 2 1st Quarter-final 3rd in group of 3
2008–09 1 2 2nd Round of 16 N/A
2009–10 1 2 2nd Round of 16 N/A
2010–11 1 2 2nd Round of 16 N/A
2011–12 1 2 1st Quarter-final Quarter-final N/A
2012–13 1 2 4th N/A N/A N/A
2013–14 1 II 1st Quarter-final Runners-up 1st in group, Round of 16
2014–15 1 II 1st Quarter-final Quarter-final N/A
2015–16 1 II 5th N/A N/A N/A
2016–17 1 II 4th N/A N/A N/A
2017–18 1 II 2nd Quarter-final N/A N/A
2018–19 1 II 2nd Quarter-final N/A N/A
2019–20[a] 1 II 2nd N/A N/A N/A
  1. ^ In March 2020, all fixtures were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain. On 6 May 2020, the Royal Spanish Football Federation announced the premature end of the leagues, revoking all relegations, declaring each divisional leader as champion and cancelling the Copa del Rey Juvenil and the Copa de Campeones for the season.[33]


Famous playersEdit

The club's purpose-built training centre and academy at Zubieta dates from 1982, but special mention should be given to the generation of players who emerged just prior to its opening: Real Sociedad were La Liga winners in 1981 and 1982 with a playing squad filled with homegrown talent (not all players were developed from childhood, but those who did arrive later were acquired from the region's local clubs in their teens or early 20s and improved further). A group comprising Luis Arconada, Genaro Zelaieta, Inaxio Kortabarria, Juan Antonio Larrañaga, Alberto Górriz, Gaztelu, Periko Alonso, José Diego, Roberto López Ufarte, Peio Uralde, José Mari Bakero, Jesús María Zamora and Jesús María Satrústegui all became Spanish internationals.

Since that successful era, many more players have emerged from the youth system to star for the Real Sociedad first team or play elsewhere at a high level, including:

As of August 2018players currently at Real Sociedad in bold, 'graduation' year in parentheses

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "When John Aldridge returned to Real Sociedad, he got a hero's welcome writes Sid Lowe". ESPN. 13 March 2015. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  2. ^ a b "David Moyes: 11 things you need to know about the Scot's new club Real Sociedad". The Daily Mirror. 11 November 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  3. ^ "Boris acabará con 30 años de tradición en la Real" [Boris to end 30-year tradition at Real]. ABC (in Spanish). 6 August 2002. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  4. ^ "Boris, primer español no vasco en la Real" [Boris, first non-Basque Spaniard at Real]. El Mundo (in Spanish). 13 August 2002. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Lowe, Sid (15 December 2017). "Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad ready to renew a special Basque derby rivalry". ESPN. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Athletic Bilbao v Real Sociedad: How La Real's trust in youth is paying off, Alex Bysouth, BBC Sport, 29 December 2020
  7. ^ "El Zaragoza estrecha lazos con 160 clubes de la Comunidad" [Zaragoza closes ties with 160 clubs in the Community] (in Spanish). Heraldo de Aragón. 25 June 2017. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  8. ^ "Fútbol guipuzcoano: Clubes convenidos" [Gipuzkoa football: Partner clubs] (in Spanish). Real Sociedad. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
  9. ^ "Sólo un jugador de la plantilla no es guipuzcoano" [Only one in the squad is not from Gipuzkoa]. El Diario Vasco. 17 December 2013. Retrieved 6 Nov 2016.
  10. ^ "Big-5 Weekly Post (Training clubs of big-5 league players)" (PDF). CIES Football Observatory. 28 October 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  11. ^ "Revealed! Which clubs produce the most of Europe's top players?". FourFourTwo. 1 November 2016. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  12. ^ "Rankings: Club-trained players". CIES Football Observatory. 1 June 2017. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  13. ^ "Athletic y Antiguoko: una relación positiva a pesar de la dificultad del territorio" [Athletic and Antiguoko: a positive relationship despite the difficulty of the territory] (in Spanish). La cantera de Lezama. 23 July 2015. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  14. ^ "Antoine lloraba al principio y estuvo tres veces a punto de irse" [Antoine wept at first and was about to leave three times] (in Spanish). El Diario Vasco. 1 October 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  15. ^ "Atlético Madrid deal for Antoine Griezmann announced". Diario AS. 28 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  16. ^ "Real Sociedad y Berio FT se fusion an" [Real Sociedad and Berio FT merge]. Official Website. Real Sociedad. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  17. ^ "La Real Sociedad ata a tres jóvenes promesas del Antiguoko" [Real Sociedad ties three Antiguoko young promises] (in Spanish). Join Futbol. 18 March 2008. Archived from the original on 24 April 2012. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  18. ^ "El Antiguoko seguirá siendo club convenido de la Real Sociedad" [Antiguoko will continue being agreed club of Real Sociedad] (in Spanish). El Diario Vasco. 11 May 2017. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  19. ^ "Real Madrid reveal €32.19 million Illarra fee". Goal. 12 July 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  20. ^ "Illarra arrives in San Sebastián to complete La Real move". Diario AS. 26 August 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  21. ^ "Iñigo Martínez signing". Athletic Bilbao. 30 January 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  22. ^ "Athletic Bilbao sign Inigo Martinez to replace Aymeric Laporte". Goal. 30 January 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  23. ^ "Official: Real Madrid sign Alvaro Odriozola". Sport. 5 July 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  24. ^ "Asoma la generación del 95" [The generation of 95 arrives] (in Spanish). Noticias de Gipuzkoa. 20 March 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  25. ^ "U19: Utd 0 Sociedad 1". Manchester United F.C. 23 October 2013. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  26. ^ "La Real Sociedad realiza pequeños retoques en el organigrama técnico de la cantera" [Real Sociedad makes small adjustments in the technical organization of the academy] (in Spanish). El Diario Vasco. 30 June 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  27. ^ "Loren renovará como director deportivo hasta 2019" [Loren renews as sporting director until 2019] (in Spanish). Diario AS. 23 May 2017. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  28. ^ "La Real Sociedad nombra a Lorenzo Juarros como nuevo director deportivo" [Real Sociedad names Lorenzo Juarros as new sports director] (in Spanish). Diario AS. 28 January 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  29. ^ "Loren's contract with Real terminated by mutual consent". Real Sociedad. 18 March 2018. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  30. ^ "Juvenil squad 18/19". Official Website (in Spanish). Real Sociedad. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  31. ^ "Easo squad 1819" (in Spanish). Real Sociedad Foundation. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  32. ^ Historical Spanish Juvenile Competition Results
  33. ^ "Comunicado de la RFEF en relación con las competiciones no profesionales del fútbol español" [RFEF announcement in relation to the non-professional competitions in Spanish football] (in Spanish). RFEF. 6 May 2020.
  34. ^ "El Real Madrid se proclama vencedor en la tanda de penaltis ante la Real Sociedad (6-7)" [Real Madrid proclaims victory in the penalty shootout against Real Sociedad (6-7)] (in Spanish). RFEF. 10 May 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2017.

External linksEdit