The dust has settled, Cristiano Ronaldo has now officially been unveiled as a Juventus player. Time has already begun to heal some of the gaping hole left behind, but Real Madrid have not. No big marquee signing has been locked down—try as they may, the world’s press have failed to even sniff out concrete evidence of Madrid’s transfer strategy. Claims of an A, B, and yes even C plans have surfaced, but there is little to back those stories. The argument can be made, that none of those transfer targets are necessary.
The club have long been planning for a potential Ronaldo departure. The World Cup, in tandem with Ronaldo’s transfer, may be signaling the end of an era. Both may set their respective leagues alight once again (thus proving this prediction premature), but there are warning signs that a transition is about to occur. A transition from the Ronaldo and Messi era to new leading lights like Griezmann, Mbappe, Hazard, Neymar, and Pogba. The club have been preparing for this moment.
On Sunday, as so many had predicted, Mbappe staked his claim to be the next great generational talent. And despite Madrid’s efforts, they failed to land the Frenchman who has confirmed he will “100% be staying at PSG next season”. Even if Florentino and his team were to work their magic and somehow persuade the player, persuading PSG is a monumental task in its own right. The Parisians are not a selling club, and as long as they are under Qatari ownership, they never will be. The same can be said about Neymar. The total transfer package for either would likely exceed the €300 million mark. Even Eden Hazard, the most likely option of the three, would probably see a total transfer package (transfer sum, wages, bonus structure, and agent fees) near the €200 million mark. No doubt anyone of these players could improve Madrid, but the question remains; are they necessary?
In 2013, Real Madrid signed Isco Alarcon. In the five years since that time, the player has seen ups and downs, but at 26 years old is entering his prime and playing his best football. If Modric, Kroos, and Casemiro remain a “lock” in the midfield and one of the aforementioned apparent transfer targets become a Madrid player, where does that leave Isco’s role? Forget Isco for a moment, in 2014 Real Madrid signed Marco Asensio. He has been dubbed the brightest Spanish talent by former World Cup winning coach and Real Madrid legend, Vincent’s Del Bosque. He has reportedly been subject to a €150 million transfer bid by Liverpool. He was highly sought after by Barcelona. Any club would love to have Marco Asensio on their books. He has scored in Champions League finals, wreaked havoc on Bayern Munich, and was crucial in laying PSG to the sword. At 22 years of age, Marco is ready to be a protagonist—his talent demands it. It’s time to let go of the leash. Lopetegui already has the players he needs at his disposal, barring an out and out goal scorer, to create a system that focuses on the collective rather than feeding and building around the greatest player in the world.
The club have the chance to continue with a policy Zidane implemented, promoting internally. Proving to the young players at Madrid, that there is in fact a career path. When Pepe left, Nacho was given the 3rd choice center back role and thrived. When James left, Asensio‘s role took another step up. And when Danilo left, Achraf was promoted to the first team—possibly a step too far, but he was given the chance and the potential still remains. Give Marco the reigns, give Isco the reigns, and let Lopetegui have his way with this team. It’s not Ronaldo that needs to be replaced, it’s his goals.
Mauro Icardi, Harry Kane, Robert Lewandowski, and Edinson Cavani— these are the names: Madrid should be looking for an out and out goal-scorer. The purpose of Madrid’s stock piling of youth talents—Odeegard, Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo, and others has been to land that next potential generational talent. The club are looking for that player who will make a double digit transfer sum at 16 years of age, look like peanuts when they are worth an excess of €300 million many years later. The stark truth, Madrid have developed this plan to avoid paying €300 million! Marco Asensio and Isco Alcocorn are just two of the names looking for bigger roles. Is Eden Hazard worth losing them and stunting their development? Is a player like Hazard, who will take significant minutes thus meaning less time for all other players, worth stunting Mateo Kovacic and Dani Ceballos growth? Madrid have the players they need, it’s now about trusting them.