- Mayoral at Wolfsburg on season-long loan from Real Madrid.
- Won the UEFA European Under-19 Championship in 2015.
- "I used to look up to Raul."
It is no exaggeration to say that VfL Wolfsburg have recruited one of European club football's hottest goal-scoring prospects by bringing Borja Mayoral to the Volkswagen Arena on a season-long loan deal from Real Madrid CF.
The 19-year-old striker scored goals for fun at youth level and joins the glittering Bundesliga ranks, itching to replicate the sort of form that propelled him to wonderkid status in the first place.
Zidane takes note
Madrid born and bred, Mayoral has spent no less than nine years on the books at los madridistas. After scoring 102 goals in 77 games for the Real Madrid Under-16s and U-18s, he was promoted to the reserves towards the end of 2014/15. Expectations rising, he made his La Liga debut as a substitute against UD Las Palmas in October 2015 and was handed his first start five months later.
Although his first-team appearances have been fleeting - six in total - Mayoral is not exactly short of admirers. His nose for goal has drawn comparisons with Real Madrid great and former FC Schalke 04 favourite Raul Gonzalez Blanco, while his current Real boss Zinedine Zidane once said: "He's a striker who scores every time he has a shot."
Shades of Raul
While that is not strictly true, Mayoral does have quite the reputation in his homeland as a goal-poacher extraordinaire. He is also strong on the ball, happy using both feet and has a real knack for carving out space in-between opposition defenders. He is not averse to the occasional stepover either, as this sensational solo goal in the U-19 UEFA Youth League against Manchester City FC goes to show:
"I used to look up to Raul because he was always looking for loose balls and paying attention to everything that went on in the area," Mayoral said of his legendary muse. "Then [Karim] Benzema came to Madrid and I studied how he played with his back to goal, and inside and outside the box. You always have to have your eye on the goal and I always do. I'm always in the area, alive to any rebound or loose ball, so I can score those scrappy goals which count the same as any others."
Mayoral underlined his innate goal-scoring gift when he broke the deadlock in the final of the 2015 UEFA European U-19 Championship final against Russia as Spain went on to lift the trophy for a seventh time. After finishing the tournament as top scorer, he has since become a two-time U-21 international with a debut goal against Georgia now part of his growing collection of strikes.
Next on Mayoral's agenda is a senior breakthrough at club level. Given the fact Wolfsburg invested so much time and energy into bringing him to the club, he might just find what he is looking for at the Volkswagen Arena. There is also a gap in the market for a striker of his type, after Dieter Hecking's side fell some 25 goals short of their 2014/15 Bundesliga tally last term. With Raul's stint at Schalke for inspiration, Mayoral could well be the man to reignite the Wolves' goal-scoring fire.