The Hard Tackle analyses Real Madrid’s transfer business and gives its verdict of the Spanish and European champions’ performance in the summer window.
The recently shut transfer window turned out to be one filled with frenetic activities that saw records being broken, and some shock deals being struck. At the Bernabeu, conventional wisdom suggested that there was little to improve in a team that has dominated European football for well over a year now.
While Los Blancos indeed had a pretty quiet time in the window, there were still some transfer activities around the Spanish capital. The Hard Tackle now takes a look at how Real Madrid fared this summer in what was a topsy turvy window in Europe.
INS: Theo Hernandez, Dani Ceballos, Achraf Hakimi, Marcos Llorente (returning from loan), Jesus Vallejo (returning from loan), Borja Mayoral (returning from loan)
OUTS: Alvaro Morata, Danilo, James Rodriguez (loan), Mariano Diaz, Diego Llorente, Burgui, Pepe, Ruben Yanez, Fabio Coentrao
MVA (Most Valuable Addition): Dani Ceballos
Spain’s latest generation of footballers is sending ripples of excitement among football fans across the globe. And Real Madrid seem to be possessing the pick of the bunch in Marco Asensio, Marcos Llorente and Jesus Vallejo.
The group has been further beefed up by the arrival of Dani Ceballos – the player of the tournament at the Under-21 European Championship. Now, while Real Madrid is already chock-a-block with world class talents in midfield, Luka Modric has started showing signs of ageing.
Ceballos will surely have to bide his time to become a regular fixture in the first-team setup, but in the 21-year-old, Zidane has a replacement at the ready to take the Croat’s place when the time comes.
Shrewd Work (A Departure That Is Ideal For All Parties): James Rodriguez
James Rodriguez’s ill-fated time at Real Madrid finally ended this summer as he joined Bayern Munich on a two-year loan deal. The move not only frees up wages for a player who was not really wanted at Real Madrid, but will also bring in some funds with the player likely to move permanently at the end of the loan spell.
For the player, it is a chance for him to put the miseries of the last two seasons behind him. At 26, Rodriguez still has his best years ahead of him. If he can manage to rediscover the form that prompted Real Madrid to shell out the big bucks on him, Bayern would have a coup on their hands as well.
The Big Miss (A Player Who Should Have Left): Karim Benzema
There is very little in Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid that can be put under the scanner. In Karim Benzema, though, Zidane might just have the only weak link in a near perfect squad of world class players.
The French striker had endured a below par campaign, even as he kept a more in form Alvaro Morata at bay throughout the 2016-17 season. The start to the current season has seen Benzema struggle once again, failing to convert even the simplest of chances at times, which begs the question – Did Los Blancos sell the wrong striker?
Final Verdict: FAIR
At the Bernabeu, it was the most un-Real Madrid window of all time, with no marquee name coming in. But then, why fix something that does not need fixing, right? Hence, “less is more” became the norm for Zidane who only made minor touch ups to his squad. At the same time, some of the dead wood was duly shipped out.
However, the Real Madrid boss did miss a trick in not bringing in a striker, with Benzema clearly on the wane. Nevertheless, the Frenchman still has a lot of goals in a squad that can run circles around just about any side, and the dominating times are likely to continue.