Predictions always have the chance of being widly off the mark, but it does not mean there is no value in providing them. Below are six predictions for Real Madrid as we embark on 2024:
A drop in performance to start the year (January / February)
The famed “pintus-valley” is upon us; the term is derived from Real Madrid’s fitness coach Antonio Pintus and the expectation that his methods allow the team to peak in the Fall and Spring but physicial levels drop off materially in January and February.
Whether the mythical pintus valley is indeed a true phenomon or just folklore, it does not take away from the fact that historically the team looks awful during this time of year. Expect a grind in the Super Cup, a victory that barely gets you over the finish line against Segunda B’s Arandina, and dropped points somewhere along the way in the onslaught of tough fixtures that arrive in February: Atletico Madrid, Girona, RB Leipzig, Rayo (away - bringing back bad memories from last season), and Sevilla.
Dani Ceballos rises to the occasion in the second half of the 2023/2024 season
Again, following a pattern of recent seasons, Dani Ceballos gets injured at the start of the year and has limited minutes. He is then fresh during a period where most are not and capitalizes on his opportunities. Given Tchouameni and Camavinga could be used to plug holes in the defense, expect to see more of Ceballos and expect him to deliver like he has in seasons’ prior.
Arda Guler finishes the 2023/2024 season with less than 1,000 minutes played but appearances warrant he and Endrick as key game-changing substitutions in 2024/2025:
Both Ancelotti and first-team players like Kroos, Bellingham, and Modric have all spoken about the innate talent possesed by the teenage Turk. Despite not playing a single game for the club due to injury, the hype has never been higher. The reality is that this team has already forged roles, and with injured players coming back to the fore, Arda Guler will have a rotational role. This season will be in embedding process — allow the 18-year-old to give glimpses of his talent, have a taste of the competitive landscape, and adapt his physique to the new riquors of elite football. Expectation is that he will play less than 1,000 minutes but do enough to earn a bigger role in the 2024/2025 season. He and Endrick may end up being the dynamic teenage duo off the bench to start next season.
Lucas, Kroos, and Nacho sign additional one year extensions — Luka Modric leaves for MLS or Saudi Arabia
There is not a better back-up right back option on the market than Lucas Vazquez. Couple that with his love for the club, suberb attitude, and fun / easy-going presence in the locker room and it is a no brainer to renew him for an additional year.
Then there is Toni Kroos, it is up to him on what he wants to do but it’s clear he is still one of the very best midfielders in the world and arguably Madrid’s best midfielder. Given his importance, he may give it another go to complete a decade at the club.
As for Nacho, it seems some of the tension between he and the club last season have simmered and now as the first-team captain, he will likely want to continue as a one-club man.
Ancelotti’s renewal may be an important piece to all of these players opting to stay.
Luka Modric will likely feel his cycle at Madrid is over given less and less prominence as the young core take over the midfield. He may decide to take a mouth-watering deal from Saudi Arabia or a deal with the MLS at Beckham’s Inter Miami — both markets he has been linked to before.
Raul leaves Castilla for a new opportunity - Summer 2024
Leeds United, Schalke, Union Berlin, Villarreal... these are some of the clubs that Raul has turned down in the past. He knows the academy inside and out, as Valdano said: “If he was here, he wouldn’t let any of us talk. He has in his mind, memorized, the three hundred players from the Cantera. Ask him for a name from the youth levels. It is a marvel. I believe in him a lot as a coach. Raúl is managing Castilla’s youngest squad. He grabs seventeen-year-old boys and after six months he returns them to you as men. He grabs Miguel Gutiérrez and makes him a man. With Antonio? The same. Marvin? A man. Men have been made through an incredible level of demand.”
Raul clearly loves his job and loves Real Madrid - so, why leave? With Ancelotti’s renewal, he may feel the time is right and may want to prove his stock like Xabi Alonso has done in taking gradual steps away from the home base. The door to Real Madrid will never be closed for Raul, so he may be tempted take a new step for the right opportunity this summer.
Arbeloa would then step up to manage Castilla.
Real Madrid budgets $1 Billion in revenue for the 2024/2025 season
This prediction may be a season early, but with the stadium remodel complete in May and the deal with Legends done for any non-match day events (70/30 split), expect the Bernabeu to become a cash-generating machine. A great phrase in real estate, “location, location, location”... all that matters is the location and with the Santiago Bernabeu just north of the heart of Madrid, those non-football events like a Taylor Swift concert or NFL game, will do big, big numbers.