Ever since the return of Florentino Perez, Real Madrid have been trying everything in their power to stop the Barca juggernaut. Perez, then threw the sink, broke the bank and bought Mourinho from the then CL champions, Internazionale. The Portuguese tactician settled into his job and started producing the results, but still could not stop Barca effectively as they won the La Liga and the Champions’ League in style. José Mourinho has always pointed out that his second season at a club is more successful than the first season and it remains to be seen if he could walk the talk and challenge the might of Barcelona. When the season ended, changes were expected. But the biggest change came off the pitch rather than on it.
New Authority, New Hierarchy
Jorge Valdano was never a fan of the Special One. The Philosopher previously had very strong words aimed at the coaching methodology of the Portuguese and when they came together, it was bound to end ugly. The cracks started to appear when Mourinho started cribbing about the referees, considered to be a taboo at Real Madrid. Valdano responded and it was never the same again. José Mourinho was only a coach while Valdano was the authority. His statements were official while Mourinho’s were just personal views. It became ugly when Mourinho dropped Benzema to the bench and complained that he lacked a 9; Valdano responded that there was one on the bench. José Mourinho has always been comfortable with complete authority over his team. Valdano was in his way and there was no way Mourinho could work with him. A board meeting was called and amid rumors that anyone of them could be on their way out, Florentino Perez announced that Jorge Valdano would no longer be the Director at the club. José Mourinho emerged triumphant and also managed to appoint a director of football of his choice, Zinedine Zidane – unthinkable and blasphemous for previous coaches at the Casa Blanca.
Arrivals and Departures
This term under Perez has been remarkably different from his previous term. Real Madrid have undergone a major policy shift since last year. Young and promising players seem to be the priority, with a vision of creating a team for the future without compromising on the present. Mesut Özil and Angel Di Maria were recruited last season and this year it has been Nuri Sahin, Callejon, Varane and Coentrão making their way into the team. The average age of the squad right now is 24.8 years, making it the youngest the club’s had in the past decade. Only Casillas and Carvalho are 30 or older, while Raphael Varane at 18 years is Perez’s youngest signing. It has been an eventful pre-season so far for the Men in White as they won all their games convincingly and majority of the players have gained valuable minutes before the start of the season.
The signings of Sahin, Callejon and Altintop happened at the start of the season with Fábio Coentrão being the only player to have signed recently. The roles of the former trio seemed to be clear when they signed but Coentrão’s signing puzzled many. The pre-season games, if they are an indication of things to come by, pitch Coentrão as a mixed bag plying his trade in multiple positions giving Mourinho an option in almost every position. He was employed as a winger, central midfielder, box-box player and defender and was also given a free role indicating that he would no way be competing with Marcelo but could be an alternative for many positions. The Portuguese gives the side dynamism and an intensity that Mourinho would love to exploit fully. But, it remains to be seen if he is worth €30 m.
With the arrivals there are bound to be departures- Garay has already made his way out to Benfica with Drenthe, Lass and Gago awaiting suitors. Pedro Leon is rumored to be loaned out to Getafe with an option to buy him for 8 million euros. Sergio Canales could be the latest casualty as Valencia’s interest in him seems to be genuine but it remains to be seen if Real would sell him or loan him. Lass has been impressive last season but has fallen down the pecking and could fetch around 12-15 million euros. Fernando Gago has displayed good footballing acumen in the otherwise dull Argentinian outfit at the Copa America and could fetch around 10 million euros and if rumors are to be believed, could land at his former club, Boca Juniors. David Mateos, who was loaned to AEK Athens for six months last season, has been loaned out to Real Zaragoza.Rumors about Benzema have been flying around, but Benzema has been sublime for the Spanish giants in the pre-season earning praise from the Special One itself and hence, effectively putting a full-stop to all rumours.
Confirmed Arrivals – Raphael Varane(€10m), Nuri Sahin( €10m), Hamit Altintop(Free), Fábio Coentrão(€30 m) , Jose Maria Callejon(€5.5 m)
Confirmed Departures – Ezequiel Garay(Undisclosed), Lass Diarra, Pedro Leon, Fernando Gago, Royston Drenthe, David Mateos(Loan)
Possible Departures – Sergio Canales
José Mourinho has admitted that he is looking at a third striker. While Perez seems to be interested in signing the Brazilian Neymar, José has his eyes set on Adebayor. Adebayor offers something extra than Higuain and Benzema, and is a healthy presence in the dressing room. Neymar is outrageously talented but Real Madrid would be betting a whopping 45 million euros on a 19-year old.
Earlier before the Copa America, it was rumored that Real Madrid have agreed terms with Santos and Neymar but earlier this month, the president of Santos has threatened Real Madrid if they attempted to sign the Brazilian. The situation is dicey and it could end only on the final day of the transfer season. Kun Aguero, another name linked, has been sold to Man City. While many Madrid fans, including yours truly, would have loved to see Aguero in a white shirt, the deal was always going to be difficult.
It has been another disappointing year for La Fabrica with none of the youngsters promoted to the first team except the goalkeeper, Tomas Mejias. Pablo Sarabia, player of the tournament at U19 Euro championships has been sold to Getafe with a buy back clause to gain some valuable first team experience. Alvaro Morata, the golden boot winner in the mentioned tournament might be considered for the first team in case the transfers of Ade or Neymar fall apart. Juan Carlos, another promising player, who made his Real Madrid début after the Pedro Leon fiasco, has been sold to Real Zaragoza for reportedly €2.5 m with a buy back clause of €3.5 m.
Nacho, Casado, Jese, Jesus and Joselu were called by Mourinho to be a part of Real Madrid’s US tour but none of them is likely to make the cut this season. Real Madrid Castilla was unbeaten last season under Alberto Toril but lost in the play-offs and with it the chance to qualify for the second division. Toril would be looking to continue the good run and secure a place in the second division this time. Click here for the entire Real Madrid Castilla team this year.
Players to watch out: Alvaro Morata(forward), Alex Fernandez(midfielder), Jese Rodriguez(forward), Dani Carvajal(full back)
The above mentioned players are expected to make their way into the first team sooner or later.
Expected Real Madrid first team 2010-11:
Goal Keepers: Iker Casillas, Antonio Adan, Tomas Mejias
Defenders : Sergio Ramos, Alvaro Arbeloa, Pepe, Raul Albiol, Ricardo Carvalho, Raphael Varane, Marcelo,Fábio Coentrão
Midfielders : Xabi Alonso, Nuri Sahin, Hamit Altintop, Sami Khedira, Jose Callejon, Esteban Granero, Mesut Özill, Kaka, Angel Di Maria
Strikers: Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, new striker?
Is your take on the new Madrid transfer policy and the first team composition matching with ours?