Recently two players had their names associated with Real Madrid transfers. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
One was regarding the recently published report by Spanish rumour monger MARCA that Ronaldo had agreed to go “home” to Manchester United in this summer or at most in 2014. There have been no categorical denials by Ronaldo till date and his contract talks with Real Madrid are seemingly in a limbo. Ronaldo’s contract runs out in 2015 plus Ronaldo has been crying out for affection regularly from the Real Madrid fans and feels that he is under-appreciated in the Spanish capital.
On the other hand, Gareth Bale to Real Madrid rumours refuse to die down and with neither of the clubs nor the player’s representatives issuing any denial, there seems to be some truth in these rumours.
Although the current avatar of Bale is as pure a winger as they make them, Bale started as a left-back for his side Southampton and was converted to a midfielder by Redknapp in 2010-11.
We will try to analyze possible scenarios of various permutations of Bale’s and Ronaldo’s movements keeping in mind the following piece of information: Xabi Alonso is getting older and he himself is not sure whether he wants play beyond 2014. So whether Real Madrid fans like it or not, they may have to prepare for a life after Alonso for reasons beyond anybody’s control.
Scenario 1: Ronaldo stays, Bale is a substitute
One of the most unlikely scenarios but stranger things have happened in the past. It is highly unlikely that either of Bale or Ronaldo would consider having their playing time reduced.
Economically also it makes no sense to bench a £80 mil or a £40 mil player or have them as substitutes.
Scenario 2: Ronaldo stays but becomes a striker, Bale takes position as a winger, Alonso retires/is benched
This will be like the change that Guardiola made when he sold off E’too and moved Messi into the center. Although whether this idea is workable is slightly questionable as Ronaldo’s defining attributes are pace and acceleration and his close control is not as good as Messi’s. Also there are some question marks over his clinicality as a striker. Ronaldo takes a lot of shots to score his goals. Although that maybe attributed to Ronaldo’s ability to make surging runs with and without the ball and his knack being in the right place at the right time.
So this scenario might actually negate a lot of Ronaldo’s best attributes and doesn’t have a good possibility to work out so well for both Ronaldo and Real Madrid.
Also since this formation means that Real Madrid will play two strikers i.e. Ronaldo + (Higuain/Benzema), indirectly this means that Alonso will have to be benched in favor of Modric starting in the middle as Alonso lacks the pace to drive the midfield all by himself. Plus since Bale and Modric know each other from Tottenham days this combo will work well together.
Scenario 3: Ronaldo goes, Falcao comes, Bale takes position as a winger, Alonso retires/is benched
Ronaldo might force his transfer through or Real Madrid might sell him to play safe than risk losing him for free. Again this is the same variation as the above scenario with the new striker being Falcao. With Ronaldo gone, Perez will definitely feel the need for another “Galactico”. Whether Falcao is needed or not is debate for some other day.
Scenario 4: Ronaldo goes, Bale takes his place
A direct player for player swap. No changes in tactics/coach/personnel. Unlikely because however good Bale maybe, it is highly unlikely that he can fulfill the void left by Ronaldo. Both in terms of goals as well as the superstar cravings of Florentino Perez.
In the near future Real Madrid might follow this option, if only as a stop gap solution till they find a better one.
Scenario 5: Ronaldo is moved to right, Bale and Di Maria are moved on the left
Ronaldo might stay after all and since Bale cannot be played in his position and also since moving Ronaldo to a striker’s position does not seem that beneficial, Ronaldo might be moved to right and Di Maria and Bale burn rubber on the left side.
This will greatly reduce Ronaldo’s effectiveness as he will not be able to cut inside and unleash a shot with his favored right foot.
Scenario 6: Ronaldo stays on left. Bale is used as an inverted winger
A highly unpalatable and yet not a very unlikely scenario. Bale maybe used as an inverted winger and he and Di Maria might rotate. Although this would mean the end Jose Callejon as three players for one position will be impossible. Callejon has been performing superbly in his two seasons at Real and has never let down whenever called upon.
In face of increasing criticism of neglecting youth players, Real Madrid might not want to go for this option, but apart from the Callejon and “canterano” factors, this is not a very unlikely scenario.
A turbulent summer beckons
However, the better question that needs to be asked is whether Ronaldo stays or not, because the entire situation depends on that answer itself. Reports emerging suggest that talks have already begun for Bale’s and Ronaldo’s transfers. With Ferguson and Evra publicly making outcries for Ronaldo which have intensified recently, there does seem to be some truth in the rumours.
It is clear that Ronaldo’s best position is the same position as Bale’s and Bale will not be able to fill the gap left by Ronaldo all by himself. Thus, it becomes imperative for Real Madrid that they abandon the double pivot system and bring back the two striker model.
So if Bale comes to Real Madrid, it is fairly certain that Ronaldo will move the other way sooner or later. Plus to fulfill Ronaldo’s loss another “galactico” will be needed. Thus after a quiet summer last season, this one promises to be much more exciting, although from Real Madrid fans’ perspective it will be much better if Ronaldo chooses to stay.