The news that Sergio Ramos has personally requested a transfer from Real Madrid should sound the alarm bells.
With a plethora of staff already being made available by the club, losing their talismanic captain just a year after Cristiano Ronaldo is a sure sign that Los Blancos are still on the way down.
Zinedine Zidane knew when he returned to the helm at the Santiago Bernabeu that this wouldn’t be an overnight job, but even he must’ve been surprised at just how far behind Barcelona his side have fallen.Should Ramos get his move to China, Zizou’s first big decision is who to install as captain.
Marcelo would be the obvious choice as vice-captain, however, the Brazilian has been in the worst form of his career over the past few months and it’s difficult to imagine him inspiring his colleagues from a position of relative weakness.
In reality, that’s the least of the coach’s worries.
Bayern Munich are not going to keep James Rodriguez and so Los Blancos need to urgently find potential suitors for the Colombian who are willing to pay at least €70m for his services.
Whilst he’s not played badly in Germany, nor has he set the Bundesliga alight, and Real may find it difficult to persuade clubs to invest so heavily.
A similar situation awaits Gareth Bale. By no means a busted flush, the Welshman has no future at the Santiago Bernabeu, but there aren’t a long line of clubs beating down the boardroom door at Real.
The players own standpoint, that he’d be happy to see out his contract playing golf in Spain if Zidane sees no future for him, has really put the cat amongst the pigeons.
Arguably Bale’s sale is the one which kick-starts any new signings, given it’s expected that Real will bank somewhere in the region of €100m.
Isco has long been out of the picture and is certainly a player with much to offer. Another €75m+ can be expected from the sale of the former Golden Boy, but he’s shown enough before now that he can still be the game changer for Real, so to allow him to depart is a strange one.
Mateo Kovacic, Keylor Navas, Dani Ceballos, Lucas Vazquez, Mariano Diaz, Raul De Tomas, Borja Mayoral and Theo Hernandez make up a full XI of players that will almost certainly be shipped out this summer.
With that in mind, Zidane’s assertion that they’ll be well prepared for an assault on Barcelona’s dominance of La Liga sounds a little hollow.
Any new signings, however good, will take time to bed in, so don’t be surprised if it’s yet another season of transition for Florentino Perez and Co.
Zidane to be gone by Christmas too, if results haven’t improved.