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Cruyff delivers Canales warning

Former Barcelona and Holland legend Johan Cruyff has warned rising Racing Santander star Sergio Canales of the risks of swapping the Cantabrian club for one of Europe's big boys at such a young age.

The 18-year-old Canales has attracted plenty of attention in recent weeks after netting five goals in his last four Primera Division games, with his latest effort being a cool lobbed finish in last night's 1-1 draw with Real Valladolid.

A host of big-name clubs have already been linked with the teenage playmaker, with Real Madrid believed to be leading the race for his signature.

However, Cruyff feels Canales is probably better off staying where he is for the next few years.

"I don't know if he will end up signing for Madrid or not, or for any other big club. The only thing that I hope is that, being so young, he isn't ruined,'' the recently-installed Catalonia coach said in his column in El Periodico.

"With the youngsters at Ajax who excelled in the first team and who were the targets of big clubs outside of Holland, my advice was always the same: stay at least until you are 21, and if you stay until 23, then even better.

"First get used to the pressure of winning in your own country, and that will then stand you in good stead for playing abroad.

"At 18 years old and with only a few games in the Primera Division, joining a big club is attractive, but it carries a risk because the destination is not the youth team.

"At 18 you have so much to learn, as a person and as a footballer, so if you leave for a big club too soon your development isn't complete and you could end up going backwards. So much so that you could end up being ruined. There are exceptions, yes, but that's what they are, exceptions.

"I already know that he (Canales) could sign (for a big club) and then go out on loan. That's a less aggressive option, but it also has its risks.

"Football is a short career, but not so short. If you have quality at 18 and you do things well, you have a mountain of years ahead of you.

"At 18 you don't need many zeros in your bank account. What you need is to play and develop. And if it is in the Primera Division, then better, and that is where he already is. There is time to earn money with a big team, especially if you are 18.''

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