Hearts in the search for Real deal

TWO Spanish teenagers released by Real Madrid are on trial at Hearts after e-mailing club officials asking to showcase their talents at Riccarton.

Goalkeeper David Soria Solis and striker Diego Moreno Minguez, both 19, paid their own flights and accommodation to come to Edinburgh and impressed in a bounce match against Livingston on Tuesday, which a young Hearts side won 3-0.

Coaching staff are continuing their assessment of the players this week, and they could have an opportunity to train with Paulo Sergio’s first-team squad before their trial period ends tomorrow. Both would be eligible for next season’s SPL Under-20 league should Hearts decide to offer contracts.

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Real Madrid released the goalkeeper, known as Soria, and forward, known as Diego, from their Juvenile A squad. The Spanish champions run several reserve and youth teams but Soria and Diego were effectively part of Real’s under-19 side and are considered players of sound pedigree.

They contacted Hearts, and presumably other clubs, hoping to continue their careers outwith Spain after being deemed surplus to requirements in the Spanish capital.

They pledged to pay their own way for the opportunity to prove themselves and were taken up on the offer. Predictably, the arrival of two former Real Madrid proteges has caused quite a stir at Riccarton but the coaches assessing them are mindful that they are still only teenagers.

Tuesday’s friendly was their first chance to impress alongside many of Hearts’ current under-19 squad. Soria lined up in goal with Diego operating as a lone striker. Callum Tapping, Fraser Mullen, and Kevin McHattie also played in a match watched by Sergio and several other coaches at Riccarton.

“The keeper did well and looked quite confident. The striker looked bright and had a good touch. They were both quite comfortable in the game,” one observer told the Evening News.

Hearts’ policy is not to comment publicly about players on trial regardless of their background but the Evening News has learned that Soria and Diego are being viewed as potential under-20 players for next season and nothing more at this stage.

Hearts will have a few voids to fill in their youth ranks with several under-19s leaving this summer and squad sizes reducing throughout the football department. Soria and Diego, therefore, may have pressed the “send” button on their e-mail at just the right time.

“I have a vision of the game, I keep the ball well and I am a goalscorer,” is the message accompanying Diego’s profile on Real Madrid’s website. Soria’s reads only: “A complete and secure goalkeeper.” It may not be Cristiano Ronaldo and Iker Casillas who have arrived in Scotland, but Hearts are aware that anyone inducted into Real Madrid’s youth academy must possess certain sought-after attributes. The club isn’t named “Royal” Madrid for nothing.

Soria is 6ft 3in with an athletic frame and is known for his solid handling of the ball. Born in Madrid, he joined Real aged ten from EF Carabanchel in 2003 and progressed through the various age-group teams within their academy.

He played briefly with city rivals Atletico during the 2008/09 season and, unsurprisingly, ranks Casillas as his idol.

Diego is slightly smaller but still carries a presence at 6ft. His footballing technique is his strongest asset allied to a fine goalscoring record at youth level.

He was born in the city of Guadalajara, around 40 miles north east of Madrid, and played with local club CD Guadalajara until the age of 12. He then transferred to Real and counts Gonzalo Higuain and Ruud van Nistelrooy amongst his favourite players.

Because of the huge catchment area Real can count on, many youngsters arrive in the Spanish capital from outlying areas with serious hopes of becoming Madrid’s next Galactico. The reality is that precious few will ever even come into contact with the likes of Jose Mourinho, far less feature in his first-team squad and are eventually forced to look elsewhere to develop.

Soria and Diego have swapped Ciudad Real Madrid, the club’s training complex in the Valdebebas region, for Hearts’ youth academy in Edinburgh’s Riccarton district. It remains to be seen if they can create an impression sufficient enough to keep them there. But, purely because of their background, many will be intrigued to see how they fare.