In the wake of Real Madrid’s resounding 4-1 victory over Villarreal, a shadow loomed over Santiago Bernabéu. David Alaba, the versatile linchpin in Madrid’s backline, succumbed to an ACL injury, further exacerbating the club’s defensive woes. This injury marks the third ACL setback for Los Blancos this season, following Thibaut Courtois and Eder Militao. With the club plunged into a defensive crisis, the question arises: how can Real Madrid navigate these turbulent waters?
The immediate answer does not seem to lie in the transfer market. In line with their recent philosophy, Real Madrid appear poised to abstain from January signings, as per some reports, despite the glaring need for defensive reinforcements. This approach mirrors the club’s strategy during the 2020–21 season, where injury crises were addressed internally rather than through the market.
Carlo Ancelotti, ever the pragmatic and club-aligned figure, is likely to echo the club’s stance. While his true desires regarding squad reinforcements may remain a mystery, the Italian maestro has a reputation for adaptability and resourcefulness. One solution may involve a reshuffling of roles within the existing squad, particularly looking at the versatile defensive midfielder, Aurelien Tchouameni. Tchouameni’s potential adaptation to center-back could provide a temporary solution to Madrid’s defensive puzzle.
However, in an ideal scenario where market activity aligns with necessity, Real Madrid could turn their gaze toward three promising talents: Antonio Silva, Goncalo Inacio, and Leny Yoro. Statistical analysis reveals intriguing insights into these potential candidates:
Antonio Silva, 20, Benfica: An exciting prospect, Silva excels in progressive play, with higher rates of progressive passes and carries than Alaba. His superior long pass accuracy, coupled with his impressive defensive statistics in tackling and blocking, marks him as a potential fit for Madrid’s style. Furthermore, his aerial ability, evident in his 60.4% win rate in aerial duels, adds a critical dimension to his game that could be invaluable for Madrid in set-piece situations.
Goncalo Inacio, 22, Sporting CP: Inacio’s profile is one of balance and versatility. His ability to carry the ball forward effectively and his decent long-pass accuracy align well with Madrid’s playing style. Defensively, his stats are robust, with a strong presence in tackles, blocks, and interceptions. However, his lower aerial duel win rate suggests room for improvement in this area, a key aspect of the central defensive role at Real Madrid. We covered him extensively when his potential transfer to Real Madrid was briefly discussed a few weeks ago.
Real Madrid have been linked with a winter move for Gonçalo Inácio (22) of Sporting CP. Here is an early scouting report from @realdealpods— The Real Deal (@RealDealPods) November 2, 2023
Progressing Passing and Pass Reception, compared with Alaba, Rudiger, and Nacho this season. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/bpMCiE6Qlh
Leny Yoro, 18, Lille: The least experienced of the trio, Yoro shows immense potential, especially in aerial challenges, where he outperforms his peers with a 67.6% win rate. While his other statistics may not yet match those of Silva and Inacio, Yoro’s raw talent and potential for development under a coach like Ancelotti make him an intriguing prospect for the future.
The players are evaluated on two main aspects:
Defensive Strength: Tackles Won, Blocks, Interceptions, Aerial Ability, and Recoveries.
Ball Progression Ability: Progressive Passes, Progressive Carries, and Long Pass Completion Percentage.
Antonio Silva emerges as the most balanced and proficient player in both defensive strength and ball progression capabilities. His exceptional tackling, blocking, and recovery rates, combined with his high efficiency in progressing the ball, make him a standout candidate to replace David Alaba at Real Madrid.
As Real Madrid faces this challenging phase, the club’s response to Alaba’s absence will be a testament to their strategic depth and flexibility. The choice between internal adjustments and exploring market opportunities will shape not only their current season but also their approach to squad management in the face of adversity.