When Real Madrid found themselves down 1-0 in Pamplona last weekend against Osasuna, it was a familiar face who put the team on his shoulders: Sergio Ramos.
The captain scored scored the winning goal in Real’s 1-4 victory and also notched a personal accomplishment appearing in his 440th La Liga match. He’s now only behind Raúl, Manuel Sanchís, Iker Casillas and Santillana. Former Real Madrid defender Fernando Hierro even touched on Ramos’ accomplishments during an interview with AS.
Over the last 15 seasons, Ramos has time and time again proven his love and dedication to the club however, being a 33 year old with an expiring contract in June 2021, things are going to look a bit different at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in the future.
A Real Madrid without Sergio Ramos is on the horizon.
This reality is hard to image. Ramos has cemented himself as an irreplaceable player with legendary status. He’s represented the crest in 635 games and has developed into a versatile centre-back with outstanding leadership qualities. Though his contributions to the club don’t just stop there.
Despite being a defender, Ramos also has a knack for scoring goals (especially in dire moments like against Osasuna). He has 90 goals and 38 assists during his time with Real which is an added testament to his importance as a player. The last minute header against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final surely takes the cake.
All the records and the unforgettable moments will forever be etched into his legendary status at the club and moving away from having Ramos as Real’s leader will be difficult. The club, however, is well prepared for the changing of the guard
Club President Florentino Perez took the first steps in adding a new centre back when he signed Raphael Varane in 2011, brought up Nacho through the ranks in 2013, and then added Eder Militao in 2019.
Yet even with a solid amount of centre-backs available, Ramos is still a prominent figure in Real’s roster. There has only been fives games this season where he hasn’t featured and other defenders stepped in, giving a future look at the post-Ramos era.
Varane, in particular, has been groomed to play as the captain’s partner in crime and has developed into a great defender for both club and country. So far throughout the 2019/20 La Liga campaign he’s contributed the least amount of fouls (0.5) and has the most clearances (4.2) and blocks (0.6) across Real’s centre-back options.
Nacho will also be a credible player to rely on when Ramos departs. At 30 years of age, pairing him alongside Varane will help the team comfortably move into the new era and there will be enough experience to keep the back line a tight unit during the transition.
Militao was brought in to be Ramos’ natural successor and the Brazilian has shown why he deserves to be next in line to take the open spot in the starting XI when it becomes available.
With these players operating in front of Real’s net during the transition, the team’s defence will continue to be strong without question.
In terms of keeping the fire at the club, Ramos’ spirit has in many ways become a part of every player at the club. One player who stands out is defensive midfielder Fede Valverde. The Uruguayan has a particular fire in his belly when playing for the team and it’s incredible to see.
Imaging a Real Madrid without Ramos is hard, somewhat heartbreaking even. But like many other aging players in the club, it’s time to acknowledge it will soon be time for the club legend to depart.
What the club has set up for the future will surely be enough to carry the team through the transition. Regardless if Ramos isn’t an active player on the team, the passion and drive he embodies will forever remain at Real Madrid.