Summer Transfer Business
The champions of each league have an interesting task when the following transfer window comes around. Each individual position was filled by a player who played a key role in the title win. Therefore, the fact that Real Madrid have yet to sign a single player isn’t surprising.
They have seen players return from impressive loan spells such as Martin Odegaard. A lot of focus has been on departures. James Rodriguez joined former Real manager Carlo Ancelotti at Everton. Gareth Bale has left the Bernabeu for a return to Tottenham, along with left-back Sergio Reguilon, who signed a five-year deal with the Premier League club. The surprising departure of Achraf Hakimi to join Inter may have saddened Los Blancos supporters, after a fantastic 2-year loan spell at Borussia Dortmund. The Moroccan international was seen by many as the best long-term replacement for Dani Carvajal. However, with the Spaniard only 28-years-old, Hakimi was determined to continue playing first team football.
Zinedine Zidane returned to his beloved Real Madrid for a second spell with the hope to return Madrid to Spanish superiority. He won the La Liga title, an accolade deeply coveted by many Real Madrid fans even more so than the Champions League, with Barcelona’s dominance on the domestic front over the last decade.
Zidane’s task this season is to extend the gap between themselves and a Barcelona side seemingly in disarray. The project within the Bernabeu walls is an exciting one. Young talent is flourishing and Barça’s La Masia academy system is being outshone by Madrid’s model of investing in youth from foreign continents. With Zidane a former Castilla coach, Florentino Perez knows he has the perfect man at the helm leading this movement.
Players to Watch
The obvious candidate is Karim Benzema. Once the enabler to Cristiano Ronaldo, the exiled Frenchman has erupted into the talismanic frontman he arrived as. A brilliant season last year will be followed by Benzema turning 33 and looking towards the end of his time at the top. Finishing brightly will be the priority.
Martin Odegaard’s return is the most exciting for me. He has shown during his loan spells in the Netherlands and Real Sociedad that there is a truly special player budding. Where he plays will be the question but with his versatility in all three attacking midfield positions the possibilities are broad.
One for the future
Whilst it feels significantly longer than the reality, Rodrygo has only been at Los Blancos for a single season. Joining as an 18-year-old, the Brazilian made 19 appearances in La Liga and looks set to build on that this season. The now 19-year-old has benefitted from the pressure being on his compatriot Vinicius Junior to flourish. The expectation will begin to increase as he enters his twenties, but the potential is there to succeed.
It feels almost lazy to suggest another league title for Real Madrid. It would be their first back-to-back title since 2008. However, with Barcelona rebuilding and Atletico Madrid facing the usual questions, it appears that the stage is set for Zidane to lead his side to yet another major trophy.