With nothing left to play for in the 2018/19 season, Real Madrid President Florentino Perez and returning head coach Zinedine Zidane are already planning for the next campaign.
Looking ahead to next season, the main priority is to restructure the team with more attacking strength after such a disastrous season and it has been rumoured that Perez is willing to spend more than 500 million euros this summer transfer window to ensure he brings the best talent to the club.
Taking a look at the current players in the squad as well as the rumoured signings, Perez and Zidane could be forced to choose between 10 players to try and develop a strong attacking line. Mathematically, this means there are 36 possible options to consider.
Now while multiple options will give an immense amount of depth to the squad, it is key that the club figures out the best attacking lineup as soon as possible before it causes any issues.
So lets take a look at each position.
Looking at the options for left winger, the club has two players who have both proved to be strong performers on the pitch.
One of them is Marco Asensio (23) who has been a viable member of the team since joining the senior squad in 2014. He has the ability to play on the right and may be an option to replace Gareth Bale (more on that later).
The other is Brazilian wonder-kid Vinicius Junior (19) who has single handily added some spark into a dull Madrid side this season. The youngster has so much talent and skill to bring to the team and is a strong contender for the starting position.
Now the rumour mill has suggested the club may sign either Eden Hazard (28) from Chelsea or Sadio Mane (27) from Liverpool to reinforce the position which only adds more options down the left.
Moving onto the right wing, there are a lot less options.
One part of the former “BBC“ scoring machine might be on his way out. At the age of 29, Gareth Bale has given a brilliant past 6 years to the club but has struggled to maintain his performance rate after being subjected to multiple injuries.
For the past few years, Bale has been vying for his spot against Lucas Vazquez (27) who under the reign of the French coach has been one of the most reliable players on the squad. The Spaniard has featured in 124 games so he will most likely remain a member of the squad and possibly secure the starting position if/when Bale leaves.
Yet unlike the opposite side of the pitch, there aren’t many suggestions for reinforcing the right wing but moving Asensio in support for Vazquez could be a possible option.
Then finally, looking at the striker situation Real Madrid definitely needs to add some reinforcements to their squad.
The current player to wear the no. 9 jersey is Karim Benzema who at 31 years of age, is the team’s leading goal scorer despite having a rough start to the season. He currently sits as the fourth leading goal scorer in LaLiga with 17 goals.
But of course, after being at the club for almost 10 years we are nearing an era where another player needs to come in as a replacement. Earlier this season, former head coach Julen Lopetegui called up Mariano Diaz (25) from Olympique Lyon but so far he has only scored two goals for the club.
It has been suggested that Diaz may be leaving on another loan spell so possible summer signings could be either Eintracht Frankfurt’s Luka Jovic (21) or even calling up Rayo Vallecano’s Raul de Tomas (24) could be an option.
However, both coach and president must be careful when constructing the final lineup.
Yes, adding more talent to a squad improves the team on paper but with so many stars names on the sheet, developing a the most reliable front line will take a long time to perfect.
Of course, not all of these lineups will work fluidly on the pitch but the longer it takes to construct a strong attack could leave the team in a vulnerable state.
Until Zidane assembles the strongest attacking line he can, the team may be unfamiliar with each other beyond their training sessions and could be exploited when playing in the league. This would be detrimental at the beginning stages of the new season where the club can not afford to drop points.
In addition to this, nobody signs for a club wanting to sit on the bench so every star name in the squad will be fighting for a spot in Zidane’s starting XI which may cause tension off the pitch.
Real Madrid has had it’s fair share of talented attackers repping the white jersey and the key to success for next season will be to solidify a consistently strong starting XI as quickly as possible.
Once Zidane can pick one of his possible 36 lineup options, the team will be one step closer towards having a better season that this last one.