It seems that Real Madrid still have to make a decision about whether they should sign a midfielder to replace Mateo Kovacic in the depth chart or not. When Los Blancos sent the young Croatian player to Chelsea on a loan deal, it’s clear that they were showing their trust in Kovacic’s potential and future as a midfielder.
Kovacic wanted to be a starter and that’s something he just couldn’t achieve with Modric and Kroos miles ahead of what he can bring to the table. Still, Madrid decided not to sell Kovacic and that proves that they believe he can replace Modric sooner rather than later. Modric will turn 33 years old this September and while he just completed a brilliant FIFA World Cup for Croatia, it’s also clear that he’s about to enter his decline. Kovacic was not willing to wait one more year for that to happen but that actually puts Madrid in a tough spot this season. Inexperienced players like Ceballos or Valverde will need to be ready as soon as Modric or Kroos aren’t available, unless Madrid decide to sign someone else for that spot. Players like Thiago Alcantara or Miralem Pjanic have been mentioned in the press, but making a quality signing this summer to replace Kovacic’s minutes this season could be problematic in the future.
Kovacic will return to Madrid next year, so having Modric, Kroos, Kovacic, Ceballos and the potential signing Los Blancos could make this summer all fighting for just two spots seems a bit too much. However, it’s also true that Ceballos —and Fede Valverde for that matter— might just not be ready for that task if Modric or Kroos get injured. That’s where Isco Alarcon comes in. He’s comfortable playing in the midfield and that would allow Asensio to start with Bale and Benzema upfront. Isco could be the true replacement for Modric and Kroos this season while he could also be a starter in the offensive line if both midfielders are available. He’s Lopetegui’s wild card and the reason why Real Madrid should stay put and not sign a midfielder this summer.
Dani Ceballos has had a brilliant pre-season and Lopetegui trusts him. If he isn’t ready enough to start week in and week out in case Modric or Kroos can’t play, just let Isco take care of the job.