Replacing nearly 40 goals a season and his marketing millions isn’t going to be easy for Real Madrid who have to job to move on from Cristiano Ronaldo
Scouting Twitter is a good way of gathering all points of view regarding La Liga. In Real Madrid’s case, there was a particularly accurate analysis coming from one of their fans: “Thank God we won the Champions League, because facing this new season with no trophies and the departure of Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo would’ve been unbearable.”
Living and breathing Real means living on the edge, only one step away from utter success, only one step away from absolute failure. There is no middle ground in which to get comfortable. Without the manager who won three Champions League titles in a row and the striker who is undisputedly one of the two best players in the world, the void is going to be quite a big one to fill…
…and Neymar Jr. has already stated that he’s not going to be the one to do so. Not this summer, at least.
The Brazilian superstar spoke on Thursday and snapped Real out of the possibility of signing him during this transfer market: “I will stay, I’m under contract with PSG. I chose to go there while seeking a challenge, and nothing has changed since,” he said in a TV interview in Sao Paulo.
It’s a given that tycoon Florentino Pérez will search desperately for a top-draw superstar to fill Cristiano’s shoes. This has always been his ‘modus operandi’, one of his biggest leisure activities: how to keep going bigger and better, even when he already has one of the mightiest rosters of the continents. However, he has found himself with a couple of hiccups: with no Neymar in sight and the possibility of luring in PSG’s Killian M’bappé absolutely out of bounds (at least, to date), there are no remaining ‘big’ fishes in the market pond to catch this summer.
The press surrounding Real’s president has speculated with a few names: Mauro Icardi, Eden Hazard…even a potential James Rodríguez return! They’re seeking a player who is able to rack up a similar number of goals to what Cristiano used to score…and, let’s face it, that’s almost impossible.
However, facing trouble up front doesn’t mean Real hasn’t been busy the last few weeks. For example, they were able to sign Álvaro Odriozola from Real Sociedad for a $35 million fee, fulfilling one of incoming manager Julen Lopetegui’s first wishes. Due to the fact that the coach had quite the advantage when he was on Spain’s bench, being able to watch close how Odriozola trained, played and behaved, one can only conclude that it was that sort of privileged intel which ultimately ended Luis Rubiales’ patience. His sacking from the Spanish Federation makes more and more sense as days go by.
They also have Vinicius Jr. on board. Labelled as ‘the next Neymar’ and only 18-years-old, the megaton $53 million signing (announced over one year ago) has finally landed and has already announced that he is no ‘sloppy seconds’: he will stay with the first team and only play with Real Castilla “in order to adapt more quickly”. He might not be there just yet, but Vinicius shares some common traits with PSG’s star: an entourage a several friends and entertainers, a handful of sponsors behind him and quite a lot of hope from Brazilian fans on his shoulders.
While Lopetegui puts together his squad and begins his summer training season, the only ‘big’ move that is being discussed right now is focused on the goalkeeper’s position. It doesn’t really matter that Keylor Navas excelled in the previous three Champions League wins: Florentino never really ‘liked’ his profile and performance, and has tried in earlier summers to switch keepers and bring in a big name. He failed with De Gea a couple of years ago, but this time his bid for Belgian Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea) seems serious.
With Allison Becker’s huge record-breaking transfer to Liverpool (around $85 million), it seems that the Courtois price tag might bump up a bit in the following days, though money isn’t really Madrid’s problem, right?