New kid on the block, Akinlabi Park will be aiming to become the first Nigerian footballer to feature for Real Madrid’s first team following his recent promotion to the Castilla.
However, Los Blancos have informed via their official website that Akinlabi will represent their reserve team, Real Madrid Castilla as from the 2019-2020 season.
It’s a step up in the career of the attacking midfielder as he was a player of Real Madrid’s U-19 team last season.
The 19-year-old was an influential member of Real Madrid Juvenil A squad in the 2018-2019 campaign, starring as they won all their group matches in the UEFA Youth League and helped the team finish second in Group V of the Division de Honor and reach the semifinal of the Copa del Rey.
Real Madrid first-team coach Zinedine Zidane is known to monitor the outstanding players at Real Madrid Castilla and Akinlabi will be hoping to catch his eye.
The likes of Mutiu Adepoju, Christopher Ohenhen, and Derik Osede represented Real Madrid Castilla in the past but departed the club without making their first-team debuts.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) First Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi, had before now said Park would soon get to play for the Super Eagles despite interest in the Los Blancos youth team kid from South Korea and Spain.
Rather than be cowed, Akinwunmi said the NFF could convince a switch to Nigeria’s senior national by Park, who is eligible for three countries, as he was born in Spain to a Nigerian father and South Korean mother.
Akinwunmi said he has enough data about the attacking midfielder, which makes him sure that Nigeria can hook the fast-rising lad.
“Akinlabi is in our plans. We are monitoring every single Nigerian kid out there, the ones that are good enough and who are willing to play for Nigeria. We are speaking with everybody, but it is not everybody that wants to play for Nigeria. It is not everybody that their parents want them to play for Nigeria; (but) we are speaking to all of them, even those who are not willing,” Akinwunmi revealed.
Born in Palma de Mallorca to a Nigerian father and South Korean mother 18 years ago, Akinlabi is spoilt for choice as he is eligible to represent Nigeria and South Korea based on the FIFA rule, and can also turn out for his country of birth, Spain.
In the Spanish naming customs, footballers have two surnames, the paternal goes first and then the maternal one, so he has to be referred to as Akinlabi, not as Park, but the football community in Spain calls him Marvin.
Marvin has been described by the official website of Real Madrid as a two-footed pacy and physical attacking-minded midfielder who is a danger when he joins the attack, and his ability in one-on-one situations also makes him a threat.
He had stopped at Sporting Ciudad de Palma, Tranmere Rovers, La Salle, and Es Jonquet Penya Arrabal prior to joining the European champions in July 2016.
Should he pledge his international future to Nigeria, he would follow in the footsteps of Madrid-born Real Madrid product Derik Osede, who switched allegiance to the Super Eagles in 2015.
A statement on the Real Madrid website last year confirmed his inclusion in the Real Madrid youth set up.
It reads, “An attacking-minded midfielder who is a danger when he joins the attack, his ability in one-on-one situations also makes him a threat. He took his first steps in the game in his native Balearic Islands and possesses a very direct style, which fully exploits his pace and power. He also has a fine ability with both feet.”
Before he moved to the famed Real Madrid Castilla in 2016, Marvin had his development at various clubs sides such as Sporting Ciudad de Palma, Tranmere Rovers, Sporting Ciudad de Palma, La Salle, and Es Jonquet Penya Arrabal.
Based on the potential of Marvin, the undefined will aim to integrate him into the national team as they have done for youngsters born abroad.
However, they should expect to face stiff competition from the Royal Spanish Football Federation and Korea Football Association who will want a talent such as Marvin in their ranks.