The recent news that Karim Benzema will be sidelined with an apparent hamstring injury for four to six weeks has left Real Madrid without a main striker during the rehabilitation period. The club’s lack of depth in the forward position has left many fans guessing what Zinedine Zidane will do to fix the issue.
Last season, Madrid was able to rely on backup forward Alvaro Morata whenever Benzema took leave but the Spanish international moved on to greener pastures in London. Another striking option used in the past to cover the Frenchman’s absences was shifting Cristiano Ronaldo from the wing inward, making him a center forward. However, Ronaldo is still serving his six-match ban following his antics in August and will not be available for league play until the 19th of September – excluding Champions League matches.
In foresight, Zidane can fix this issue in three ways. First, he could play Gareth Bale as a center forward. Bale played as a striker in his later days for Tottenham and could most likely replicate his success. Second, Zidane could make shift a whole new lineup and try either Marco Asensio or Lucas Vazquez as a striker. Third and last, Zidane could play academy product, Borja Mayoral.
The latter makes the most sense. With the recent influx of academy products blossoming at Real, why not give another one a chance?
Borja Mayoral Moya joined Madrid in 2007 as a ten-year youth product. Since his arrival, he has appeared for Castilla countless times and has made a few frequent appearances for the first team. Last year, Mayoral was offered the chance to apply his trades in Germany on a loan deal. Madrid sent him to Wolfsburg where he would go on to appear in 19 matches and score two goals. Overall, the loan spell was not a great success. VfL Wolfsburg had an awful year and finished 16th in the league. Obviously, none of this was Mayoral’s fault as he served primarily as a backup for German international Mario Gomez.
Nevertheless, Mayoral was given the chance to grow as a professional and apply his trade to a situation out of his comfort zone. Upon his arrival home to Madrid, he was welcomed with open arms as he traveled with the first team during the preseason.
Mayoral scored a goal and won the Player of the Match Award in the MLS All-Stars contest and scored in Real’s victory against Fiorentina in the 38th game of the Trofeo Santiago Bernabeu.
From a preseason perspective, Mayoral played well for Real. He scored goals, trained with the first team and won silly trophies – sorry MLS. One would think that this could be enough for a chance to show his skills in a real match.
But in the end, it is all up to the manager.
The 20-year-old striker needs to be given a chance to shine under the lights of the Bernabeu. With a dominant team built around him, it’s hard to achieve failure. With Ronaldo’s return imminent, the forces of Bale and Ronaldo by his side could propel Mayoral’s career tenfold, perhaps eclipsing fellow Real Madrid youth product alum Morata.
But what do you think? Should Zidane play Mayoral or look for other options? Sound off in the comments.