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Managing Madrid Mailbag: Jan 28th

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On Real Madrid presidency and Ronaldo's departure, among other things

Another Thursday morning where I gutted through questions for this week's mailbag. In contrast to last week's mailbag, there were talking points outside of James, which was fun. There were a couple very similar questions which I opted not to include, so I apologize to those whose questions didn't make the cut. I think you will still find answers to your questions within the following paragraphs, so enjoy.

The reality is that Florentino Perez will not go anywhere, and people need to start accepting this - or at least understand and accept the reasons why - because it's impossible to run against him in any way, shape, or form. Perez can win pretty well every election for the rest of his life by default and it shouldn't surprise anyone. Even if someone does meet the requirements for Real Madrid presidency (which I will elaborate on below), that candidate has to convince the Socios that he can put the Club in a better state than Perez has.  

Right then, requirements of a Real Madrid presidential candidate:

  1. Must be Spanish
  2. Must be a Club member for at least 20 years
  3. Must provide a deposit or a bank guarantee of 15% of the Club's annual budget
Point #3 is crazy, because the Club's annual budget is massive, and by next season, 15% of it is projected to be close to 100m or more. Florentino Perez is the 12th richest person in Spain, and there are no signs to indicate that the 11 people who rank ahead of him in the net-worth column have ties to Real Madrid or that they are Club members at all - let alone for 20 years.

These prerequisites, by the way, were revised by Florentino himself in 2012. Former president Ramon Calderon brought ample shame to both himself and the Club amidst the corruption of his presidential run, but he did once induce a chuckle-worthy statement that the only people who are eligible are those whose names begin with the letters "F-l-o".

There are some who have suggested Raul steps in at some point, but the third prerequisite makes that difficult, and when Raul returns, it will likely be in a different capacity then that of a President. The twist is this though - the candidate running doesn't need to have 15% of the Club's annual budget in his bank account from his own wealth. If he can raise the money from outside funding, it's do-able. But it takes some sort of ubber-reputable person to convince a bank or investor to put 100 m+ in his bank account.

To the second question - would I retain Floro? Yes. I admire him for many reasons and fully admit his many shortcomings, but nevertheless I support him, and quite frankly, am still traumatized by Ramon Calderon. Say what you want about Florentino's splurging and managerial shuffling - both with which I generally disagree with - but he's given Real Madrid a global audience and unparalleled brand in World football. He's a genius businessman who knows how to run things. That he interferes with the football side of things is something that he actually - to an extent - has to be hands on in, because he builds his brand by signing marketable players that he sees as strategic business moves. Not ideal, but, he's an honorable man and not corrupt in his nature like his predecessor.

A Carvajal - Vasquez tandem is probably not going to win Championships for you, and there are zero circumstances where Zidane will go into a game thinking in a tactical sense that he needs to start with a defensive winger over game-changing footballers like James or Bale. By the way, it's been clear that under Zidane especially, Bale works diligently to track back and pressure defenders which is a strong suit of Vasquez's. Let's also remember that Bale traditionally was a left back and is no stranger to covering defensively, even in an advanced role with Real Madrid.

Vasquez is - and quite frankly should always be in Real Madrid - a utility player who is deep down the depth chart. Rafa Benitez is rare in his approach, and probably saw Vasquez with a bigger role in the team than anyone else could foresee. Zidane's vision of where Vasquez stands in the squad is more realistic and sound. Don't get me wrong, Zidane is genuinely as interested as Rafa when it comes to grooming players, but he will go more out of his way to groom players like Jese than he would with Vasquez, as the former has more upside and more talent and Zizou takes some pride in Jese as he's always been fond of him. If Real Madrid find themselves leading in a difficult away game searching for defensive bolstering, Zidane should opt to slide in an extra midfielder like Kovacic or Casemiro instead of slotting in Vasquez.

The weak points in the squad are not in the starting line-up, but further down the depth chart. Even then, Real Madrid don't have any absolutely dire immediate needs. Check out this depth chart I created for last week's mailbag which shows Zidane's basic rotation. The most obvious hole is Marcelo's understudy which is non-existent in the traditional sense, but will ultimately be Danilo, Nacho, and Arbeloa - probably in that order - in the disaster scenario that we lose Marcelo for a prolonged period of time.

All signs point to no signings this Winter. I very well could be wrong about this, but Real Madrid are confident they can at the very least delay the transfer ban so that they can sign players in the Summer. It's not out of the realm of possibility. To be clear, all loan players can return under the current transfer ban. Coentrao should return if Real Madrid can't grab a proper left back in time, and Marco Asensio should probably see-out another loan spell to further his development as Real Madrid are covered pretty well in that area already for the immediate future.

I have to somewhat interpret this question into what I think Peter is asking here, and that is ultimately who is in control, the Club, or the player? If that's the case, this question is fully loaded, and the answer varies.

Who has the final say?

The quick answer to this is that the Club is always in control so long as the player is under contract. I have a feeling this question also may have been triggered because of James' reported unhappiness - which is still just an unconfirmed theory. Ultimately, he's under contract, and Real Madrid have the easy job of saying, sorry, you're our player and we're not selling you.

Why would a Club accept a transfer request?

The complication usually comes when the player who requests a transfer is actually good, and / or has an expiring contract of sorts. That gives him leverage. If Royston Drenthe asks to leave, no one will bat an eye, but if someone like James asks, it becomes complicated. Although the Club always has the final say, keeping a disgruntled player becomes problematic in a sense that the player may not give his best for the Club, may laboriously drag his feet late to training, or refuse to play until the situation is sorted out. I'm not talking about James here, but more in a general sense. It's also important to keep in mind that these players are generally cancers and the Club should probably try to move them anyway. Again, the Club will have the final say, but may be forced to make a move for the sake of team morale. It also knows that it would make more sense to sell him before he walks when his contract expires.

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It's also important to note that football politics have evolved. If a player goes to the board and says he wants to leave, what power does he have and what purpose does he go there with? The Club has no desire to give in to these kinds of requests, and if a player is unhappy, it can be read by his actions and no words truly need to be said. The Club could sell him based on his actions alone, and all a player does by officially handing in a transfer request is damage his relationship with the Club and the fans - so why do it? I will answer my own question, that these kinds of threats are generally just ploys to ink a new and more lucrative deal, and that's the reality.

In the event of an inevitable Ronaldo departure, others will rise in his place. I'm going to have some fun with this question and answer it quite literally by ways of how I would personally handle the situation, rather than what I think the Club will do. The first thing to get out of the way is that it's pretty well impossible to rotate Ronaldo once he's in the squad. He has the type of persona about him that, if he's in the team, he has to play. It's the same kind of presence that Raul or Casillas demanded even if they don't directly say it, and generally you need to part with these players on the early side of their decline.

In what World is James Rodriguez a squad player and not a starter? James is an ace. The average age of James - Bale - Isco is 24, and that's a tantalizing core to build your team around. I don't see Ronaldo as a part of this core moving forward, and, as I've mentioned several times before, it by no means indicates that the Portuguese legend is devalued or under-appreciated.

Ronaldo has been efficient enough to be on his own historical plane of greatness, but naturally, he has declined, and generally, the more you rely on athleticism as a player, the sooner you will regress as a footballer. There is no shame in admitting the Club will be better off to cut ties with Ronaldo now and move him in the Summer, because quite frankly, the idea of a James - Bale - Isco trio binding the midfield and attack for the next few years is too good to pass up, and Bale could generally develop into the team's alpha-dog which is a position he should thrive in.

At the end of the season, I'd have a frank conversation with Ronaldo to say 'we appreciate everything you've done for us, and this is the direction we are headed in'. Then hold a massive tribute for him and pack the Bernabeu. Send him off with a clear conscience and start building your team for the future.

I admire the idea of not being lazy enough to spell Odegaard's name without finding the proper accent on the 'O'. Two points, ikechukwu.

I trust Zidane has controlled optimism with regards to how he will groom his young players moving forward. Transfer ban or not, it's far too early for raw players like Odegaard to be incorporated in the team, and even next year in the event of massive thumpings against La Liga minnows we'll probably see playing time off the bench allocated to players like Jese, Casemiro, and Kovacic - or players who are right there in the rotation and need to fully stay match-fit.

The added benefit of next season though is the Copa Del Rey which Real Madrid didn't have this season - this will allow plenty of opportunities for younger players to get incorporated.

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Hope you enjoyed this week's mailbag, and, as always, tweet me with questions for next week!