The last attacker that Real Madrid signed was Reinier, in January 2020. The Brazilian, who cost 30 million, closed another poor season in European football this Sunday with Girona, which adds to his two invisible courses at Dortmund. You have to go back to the summer of 2019 to find the latest profitable acquisition of the white club in the lead: Rodrygo (45 million). Since then, in these four campaigns, the team has been pulling with what they were wearing, celebrating the explosion of Vinicius and Rodrygo, and assisting the happy swan song of Karim Benzema. The harvest of titles in this process of stretching the offensive rope has not gone badly for him (he has won all the possible ones in two seasons), but this summer circumstances force him to enter deeply into the forward market. He has been left alone with the two boys from the Canarinha. “We have to get our hands on it and we will do it, without haste,” Carlo Ancelotti commented with a colloquial touch this Sunday, after firing Benzema and Asensio, as well as the inconsequential Hazard and Mariano.
The entity, with all eyes on Kylian Mbappé until last summer and before that also on Erling Haaland, has resisted in recent years to carry out operations in that area of the field that did not fill his sight. The sting for the 60 million disbursed in 2019 for a Luka Jovic of zero performance, a Benzema who felt more comfortable alone, and the effects of the covid were the main reasons that led the club not to intervene in that plot. The results did not create an urgency for him either, despite the constant refrain of the need to sign a nine alternate. Benzema put up with almost everything and then Vinicius joined him.
For this summer window, the idea was to sign that striker who would reinforce a 35-year-old Karim and already twilight, although the hasty goodbye of the Frenchman and the departure of Asensio (42 goals between them) open a gap and force a turn of stuck in the attack.
Empower Vini and Rodrygo
“We are looking for a striker who scores goals and associates well,” Ancelotti specified. Without real options, in principle, to hunt the two elephants of the jungle, Mbappé and Haaland, the intramural talks pointed to the next step, Harry Kane (London, 29 years old), from Tottenham, who meets the requirements and satisfies the likes of the Italian coach (he has not dropped below 24 goals in the last decade). The Englishman has been showing his intention to leave a decadent group for some time (eighth in the Premier), although on the other side of the negotiating table the thorny Daniel Levy, the president of the spurs.
Apart from this operation with Kane or another striker with a starting lineup, Madrid has the arrivals of Brahim Díaz (Málaga, 23 years old) instead of Asensio, and Joselu Mato (Stuttgart, Germany; 33) replacing Mariano . The first, who comes from three seasons at Milan, aspires to extend his contract (it expires in 2025). All of them would be the basic package, although not necessarily the only ones if the market offers other opportunities. The release of a not inconsiderable part of the salary bill after the last departures (12 million from Benzema, six from Asensio, 4.5 from Mariano plus the savings from Hazard’s large salary with the termination agreement) give the club a greater margin of action.
In these meetings to design the new stage, another of the points analyzed is the adaptation of the new pieces to the deployment of Vinicius and Rodrygo, and also how to promote the growth of the two Brazilians. “We must bear in mind that we have two youngsters who are beginning to play a more prominent role: Vini, since last season, and Rodrygo has made a lot of progress in this season,” warned Ancelotti. Behind them, in the midfield, the signing of Jude Bellingham (19 years old), from Dortmund, is well advanced, and on the left side the return of Fran García (23) is confirmed.
eight to two
Transition has become a common term in Madrid’s vocabulary to explain the evolution of a team that lifted four Champions Leagues in seven seasons. Until now, however, it had mainly affected the midfield and defense. Kroos and Modric continue in the wide area, but by their side the club has already placed a battery of youngsters. Bellingham should be next. And in the center of the rear he went from Ramos-Varane to Militão-Alaba-Rüdiger with hardly any convulsion. Now it is the turn of the forward because Benzema fell (and left), and Asensio did not make the leap that was demanded of him and also left.
The scenario above has changed in a year at the speed of football: the all-or-nothing bet was Mbappé and the Frenchman stood up; Karim caught the Ballon d’Or and collapsed; and the front ended almost empty. When Ancelotti returned to the Bernabéu in 2021, he found himself with eight forwards and now there are only two left. Half, in truth, disappeared in the first blow of air (Mariano, Hazard, Bale and Jovic). He started this course with only four tools and, in recent months, Karim’s involution and his subsequent departure, probably to Arabia, have led him to seek other horizons that have yet to be specified.
This Wednesday at noon, the Frenchman will say goodbye in an act with Florentino Pérez and, except for last-minute changes, he will not answer questions, a gesture that would further underline his elusive character of recent times. In the offices they work for his replacement, although Ancelotti, before going on vacation, warned again that you can win without a center forward but not without sacrifice, solidarity and defensive commitment, qualities that Madrid has not always had this season.
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