Fran Garcia spent seven years in the youth ranks of Real Madrid. He later left Real Madrid Castilla (Real's B team) for pastures anew and, in his three seasons as a player at Rayo Vallecano, has progressed so much that Carlo Ancelotti and Real Madrid's sporting management have taken the decision to bring him back to the club.
Real owned 50% of his rights and will only have to pay five million euros to secure him. As a result, next season, Fran Garcia will wear the famous white jersey of Real once again and Flashscore had the opportunity to speak exclusively with him.
As a future Madridista, what did you think of the Champions League clash against City?
"It was very evenly matched and hard-fought. It was a match of enormous magnitude and the fans enjoy that kind of match between two teams like that."
Do you think Real Madrid deserved more than a draw or was it a fair result for both teams?
"What I saw was that City had more possession, especially in the first half hour, but when Madrid got into the box they created more danger and, at the end, they pressed quite hard. It was incredible to be able to enjoy such a high-level match as a spectator."
How do you see the return leg at the Etihad?
"It's wide open and anything can happen. I would say that, despite the fact that Madrid will be playing away from home, the tie is 50/50. Whoever prepares better and has the better day will win the final."
You are a winger and you face a lot of wingers, what do you think of Vinicius Junior and his current form?
"Right now he is in the top three in the world for the influence he has on the game and for all the chances he generates in every game. He is incredible. It's difficult to find a player in the world who is more influential than him at the moment."
"Yes, without a doubt. With what Vinicius is showing, at the moment, you can say that they are the big three in football today."
Camavinga has started to play in the same position as you, as a left back. Being a midfielder by trade, what do you think of his performances in that position?
"I have talked about it with several teammates and players from other teams in LaLiga and we all agree that it is amazing. For a player who has hardly ever played in that position, his performance has been outstanding."
You will be at Real Madrid next season, do you think you are ready to be a starter in such a demanding team?
"When the time comes we will see, but I have confidence in myself. At the moment, I am a player of Rayo Vallecano until the end of the season and I have to think about that. I have to be ready to face all the challenges that come, to fight and fight if I have to earn my place."
Xabi Alonso's Bayer Leverkusen were very interested in you but preferred to wait. Is returning to Madrid the opportunity of a lifetime?
"To be in the first team of Madrid has always been a dream for me. I spent many years in the Cantera and since I left my goal was to return one day but now I have to keep my feet on the ground, be humble and wait for it to be official.
"When it happens, I will be delighted and I will fight to the maximum if I am there, just as I am doing now with Rayo, to whom I owe so much. My focus is absolutely on finishing the season in the best possible way with my team."
In your seven years in the youth academy of Real Madrid, what other well-known footballers did you play with?
"With Fede Valverde, Achraf Hakimi, Oscar Rodriguez (Celta), Alvaro Fidalgo (America de Mexico).
"I was lucky enough to meet some very good players during my period at Real."
Let's talk about Rayo. It is a very humble team, with one of the lowest budgets in the league and still with a chance to make the European places. Is that almost a miracle?
"I don't know whether I'd call it that but our season is going very well. We have fulfilled our objectives and now we dream of qualifying for Europe.
"We are going to fight for this objective until the end."
(Rayo are ninth, one point behind seventh-placed Girona. Seventh qualifies for the Conference League).
What have you learned in the three years at Rayo that will help you most in the future?
"You always have to be a sponge and learn from every place where you are. That's what I've tried to do since I was a child. Learn more every day and give the best version of myself.
"I'm young, I'm 23, and I still have a lot of growing to do. I try to learn from those around me and enjoy football. If you lose the illusion, you lose the magic. That's why it's vital to keep that part of enjoying the game."
You have a great coach, Andoni Iraola, how has he made you a better player?
"He has been the one who has given me the opportunity that has allowed me to take my first steps as a professional and who has given me the confidence to progress and grow as a footballer.
"I needed strength when I left Castilla and he gave it to me. I've been with him for three years and I'm a totally different player from the one who arrived at Vallecano. He has taught me a lot tactically but the main thing has been the confidence from counting on me from the beginning."
You never stop running in every game, do you know how many kilometres you usually run and what is your top speed?
"I'm not sure. I think that in some matches I have exceeded eleven kilometres of distance covered and my top speed is 34.8 km/h."
With that speed and that constancy, can you imagine what a left side of Fran Garcia and Vinicius at Real Madrid could look like?
(Laughs) "Sure. I can imagine it and dream about it. It would be fantastic but we have to go step by step, think about the present and try to be a better player every day."
Is debuting with the Spanish national team another pending dream?
"Of course it is. It would be a moment of huge pride. I have had the pleasure of being an international with Spain from U16 to U21 and I hope I can get the opportunity one day to play with the senior team but there is a lot of competition and you have to fight very hard.
"Getting to the national team would be a reward for all my hard work and if I do, it will be a great joy."
Who have been your footballing idols?
"Marcelo and Roberto Carlos. They were my idols since I was a child. I coincided with them during my years in the youth academy at Real Madrid and I learned a lot from them. They have always been my references."
Theo, Davies or Jordi Alba?
Who are, in your opinion, the top three left backs in the world right now?
"It's difficult to say. Theo Hernandez is at an impressive level. (Alphonso) Davies, from Bayern Munich, and (Andy) Robertson, from Liverpool, too. Alejandro Balde and Jordi Alba of Barcelona are also very good.
"Alba has also been a reference for me. He is not very tall but he is dynamic and very offensive. It is a profile very similar to mine."
Who would you give the MVP of LaLiga to?
"It's a complicated question. Antoine Griezmann is playing at a very high level. Both he and Vinicius are among the best in the world right now. It would be one of them."
What is your dream for the future?
"In the short term, to qualify Rayo for Europe. That's my dream now. After that, others will come."