What will this summer hold for Real Madrid?

There was no stopping Real Madrid after the resumption of the Spanish football season. Indeed, Zinedine Zidane’s side won 10 straight games following lockdown to take control of the title race at the top of La Liga. Los Blancos head into the summer as Spanish champions for only the second time in the last eight years.

But for all the success Real Madrid have enjoyed this season in wrestling back the Spanish title from Barcelona, this is a group of players that still finds itself in the midst of a generational transition. The likes of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and even Sergio Ramos will have to be phased out of the Real Madrid starting lineup over the next few years and so there is no time for Los Blancos to rest on their laurels.

However, there is a suggestion that the Santiagio Bernabeu club won’t have much money to spend this summer. The coronavirus pandemic has hit most clubs across Europe, but the noises out of Real Madrid are that they have been hit harder than most. Spanish football in general seems to have been hit harder than most.

Reports claim Real Madrid will have to sell players before they can buy anyone this summer. There is fortunately, for their sake, a lot of deadwood for them to shift. James Rodriguez, for instance, is now seen as surplus to requirements at the Santiago Bernabeu. The Colombian has struggled for game time this season and has been linked with a move to the Premier League.

Mariano Diaz is another who could be moved on, with the striker barely featuring for Real Madrid this season. Then there’s Gareth Bale, the Welsh winger who become something of a sideshow with his antics in the stands as Los Blancos marched their way to the Spanish title. If Real Madrid could find a buyer for Bale, significant funds could be freed up for new signings.

But selling these players in this depressed transfer market is going to be tough. Clubs are being more creative in the way they are strengthening this summer and so this might make it more difficult to sell their players in orthodox transfer deals. They might have to enter the loans and free agents market like everyone else if they want to reinforce their squad ahead of next season.

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Will Real Madrid be able to shed their deadweight this summer?

Zinedine Zidane knows how to get the most out of a squad. The Frenchman returned to the Santiago Bernabeu last year and was handed a Real Madrid team lacking in identity, direction and confidence and in just over 12 months he turned them into Spanish champions. Zidane proved his worth as a coach and a manager this season.

Indeed, by revitalising the likes of Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos, Zidane was able to squeeze more out of a squad most had assumed was past its expiry date. Of course, a generational transition will still need to happen at Real Madrid, but for the time being their current team is delivering.

And yet there is still some deadwood weighing them down. With the summer transfer window set to open soon, it’s highly likely Real Madrid will have to move on some players before they can buy anyone. It could be a frustrating window for Los Blancos if they are unable to find buyers for players they don’t need.

James Rodriguez is almost certain to leave the Santiago Bernabeu this summer. The Colombian was recalled by Zidane last summer having failed to earn a permanent move to Bayern Munich after a loan spell there, suggesting that he would be used by Real Madrid. Barring a few sporadic appearances, though, James has been a peripheral figure.

A move to the Premier League has been mooted, with Arsenal and Manchester United among those interested, but offloading James in this economic climate might prove difficult. Dani Ceballos is another whose future at the Santiago Bernabeu is far from certain. The midfielder has impressed at times on loan at Arsenal this season, but is expected to return to his parent club once that loan agreement has expired.

Then there’s Mariano Diaz and Brahim Diaz, both of whom have played a bit part role for Real Madrid this season. But Real Madrid’s biggest chunk of deadwood is undoubtedly Gareth Bale. The Welshman is still the club’s highest paid player, but has barely featured for Los Blancos since the restart of the season.

Real Madrid tried to move Bale on last summer, with the winger coming close to a switch to a Chinese Super League, but there is no suggestion that he will leave the club in this window. That means a significant chunk of cash remains tied up at the Santiago Bernabeu, making it much tougher for Real Madrid to get anyone in this summer.

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What does the future hold for James Rodriguez?

It seemed unlikely that James Rodriguez would ever play another competitive game for Real Madrid. The Colombian had been sent on a two-year loan deal to Bayern Munich, with the Bavarians holding an option to sign him permanent after that period. Even when Bayern Munich decided not to exercise that option at the end of last season it seemed probable that Real Madrid would move him on.

And yet James was kept at the Santiago Bernabeu for the 2019/season. The initial signs were positive for the playmaker. He looked to have regained the trust of Zinedine Zidane, earning a place in the Real Madrid after a number of impressive performances over pre-season. There is still a player in there.

Now, though, James’ time at the Santiago Bernabeu might well be over. The Colombian has struggled for game time of late with Zidane overlooking the playmaker for every game Real Madrid have played since the Copa del Rey defeat to Real Sociedad at the start of February. He has been ostracised at a time of the season when Zidane could use the extra squad depth.

Speculation is already swirling over where James could pitch up next, with Wolves reported to be interested in the 28-year-old. A switch to Molineux would be somewhat remarkable, making a real statement about the progress they have made over the past few seasons under Nuno Espirito Santo.

James is still an exceptional player with exceptional talent. He could still enjoy a fruitful twilight to his career. He hasn’t played poorly in the handful of appearances he has made for Real Madrid this season, but an elite level team needs performers who can make a difference. Increasingly, James finds himself a passenger. He is no longer the headline grabber he was a few years ago. He is no longer capable of deciding a game almost entirely on his own.

Signed after the 2014 World Cup where he was the player of the tournament for Colombia, James looked like a natural ‘Galactico’ in his early days as a Real Madrid player. The aura faded quickly though and with Los Blancos in a transitional period the time has come for James to leave. That much has been proven this season. For all parties concerned, it’s probably best that a parting of ways comes this summer.

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¿Quién puede fichar a James?

James Rodríguez tiene los días contados en el Real Madrid. Desde la llegada de Zidane ha adoptado un rol totalmente secundario en el equipo. El banquillo ha sido su mejor amigo durante todo ese tiempo y, salvo en contadas ocasiones, no ha disputado más que partidos de menor importancia o minutos finales. Zizou ha manifestado en varias ocasiones y públicamente que quiere que el colombiano siga en el club, pero es normal que un jugador de su nivel y con su juventud comience a valorar otras opciones más allá del Bernabéu si no cuenta todo lo esperado para el entrenador. Continue reading

¿Qué hacemos con James?


James Rodríguez no está en su mejor momento de la temporada, al menos este año no cuenta tanto como el pasado. Sus goles o su juego parecen haberse olvidado y ha quedado relegado ante la llegada del nuevo el técnico. Zidane ha cambiado el esquema de juego; la BBC sigue siendo intocable, pero si antes solía acompañarle James (o en su defecto Isco), ahora la primera opción del míster es Casemiro.

Casemiro se está ganando con paciencia y humildad un puesto titular, su labor en los últimos partidos es indiscutible controlando todos los balones y dando estabilidad al equipo. ¿Qué quiere decir eso? Que todos no tienen cabida porque solo pueden jugar 11. Y si Casemiro juega, alguien no podrá hacerlo. Y justo ahí es donde James entra en escena, o más bien donde desaparece.

Puede que le estén pasando factura los problemas extra-deportivos de mitad de temporada; lo cierto es que de los últimos 4 encuentros en Liga tan solo ha jugado uno, el que ganaron al Sevilla, pero no entró de inicio sino que saltó al campo en una sustitución. Ni siquiera salió a calentar cuando los blancos perdían ante el Barça. Esto le quita protagonismo al colombiano, quien comienza a hartarse de la situación. En unas declaraciones tras jugar con su Selección mostró públicamente su descontento. James es un jugador de calidad indiscutible, pero si el esquema de juego actual funciona sin él, ¿por qué cambiarlo? Casemiro quizá no tenga tanto caché, pero demuestra su valía sobre el césped, al menos él sí se merece estar ahí.

James costó 75 millones de euros (90 con primas), toda una fortuna que parece desperdiciada en el banquillo. Está viendo cómo otros jugadores le están ganando la partida, como Jesé, un recambio habitual en los últimos minutos de juego que responde con goles. Pero sin continuidad, sin cariño, sin confianza y sin minutos, James acabará convirtiéndose en un jugador del montón. Triste pero cierto. No se descarta una salida este verano, pero antes Zidane deberá aclarar qué rol tiene para él el colombiano.

Un Madrid sin rumbo

James Rodriguez

El Madrid no carbura, el Madrid no espabila, el Madrid no despierta. Titulares similares inundan la prensa de hoy y podrían enumerarse hasta la saciedad. ¿A qué juega? Tras el tropezón del Barça tenía una oportunidad de oro para acercarse al liderato, pero ni con esas… Volvió a caer en el Madrigal, y ya son muchos puntos importantes los que se ha dejado escapar este campeonato. Así es como se pierden las Ligas.

Pero lo peor de todo es la aptitud. El equipo blanco no responde, no ofrece intensidad, no aporta juego, no tiene ganas, ¿por qué? Las cosas pintaban muy bonitas tras la goleada en Champions, pero parece que la vuelta a la realidad es algo que se le resiste o que algunos quieren que sea así.

El Madrid parece que ha perdido el rumbo. Tras la humillación en el Clásico y la vergüenza copera, el Bernabéu pide cabezas. Florentino y Benítez están en el punto de mira de todos los aficionados. Y, en el caso del vestuario, los conflictos internos apuntan a una crisis total en las relaciones con el entrenador. Cuando los resultados no llegan, hay que preguntarse muchas cosas: ¿por qué Ronaldo no arrasa en el Pichichi como nos tenía acostumbrados otros años? ¿qué fue de Jesé? ¿Ramos se auto-descarta? ¿qué pasa con James? ¿por qué los goles que encaja son fruto de despistes en defensa? Todo ha ido mal desde la llegada de Benítez. ¿Casualidad? El míster no tiene autoridad ni se atreve a sentar a las vacas sagradas cuando no rascan pie con bola; quizá este sea uno de los fallos que desencadenan la desgracia.

Pero volviendo al último encuentro frente al Villarreal, ahí se vieron fallos garrafales y estrepitosos que ponen en evidencia al conjunto blanco. Disparos inútiles, pérdidas absurdas de balón, falta de ganas de correr… Lo malo no es que se haya jugado un encuentro así, sino que esta empiece a ser la tónica habitual. Batacazo tras batacazo. El Madrid es capaz de lo mejor y de lo peor. De él depende porque si quiere puede, pero como hemos dicho antes, no quiere y así es cómo se pierden Ligas.

Suarez heads summer list of eye-catching transfers

With football set to return to pitches across Europe in just a matter of a week or two, we herald in the new season – and the launch of our 2014-15 Euro Fantasy League competition – by taking a look at some of the players who will be pulling on a new shirt this season. We are not of course talking about a club’s new home kit, but those who have swapped employers already in this transfer window and who will be kicking off the campaign wearing the new colours of the club they have joined.

The biggest transfer of the summer would seem to be Luis Suarez departing Merseyside for the sunnier Spanish climate as he completed a move said to be in the region of €75m to Barcelona. This would seem to set him in good stead as a healthy choice for many of our fantasy managers – the guy has proven himself to be among the world’s elite when it comes to talent. He did, however, have something of a controversial World Cup campaign which ultimately saw him given a global ban from all football related activities until November, and so this will probably go some way to explaining why only 5% of our managers have selected him in their squad.

That said, he has proven himself capable enough before, and so if he is able to recapture the form and clinical finishing he displayed in front of the Kop then those missed months could surely just mean the Uruguayan has a bit of catching up to do – he will, when he finally debuts, be turning out alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar week in, week out after all – Barcelona will be dangerous this season.

One of the busiest clubs in regards to transfer activity this year has been Southampton, who have just completed their second season back in the Premier League. However, unfortunately for Saints fans the bulk of the dealings have seen some of their top international stars departing St. Mary’s, rather than a host of talent arriving to join the revolution being enjoyed on the south coast.

England striker Rickie Lambert ended his five-year stint at the club by rejoining boyhood club Liverpool, and his EFL value of €7.00m mean he could prove a popular choice for a backup striker in any squad. He could prove great as a starter, but with Liverpool’s attacking lineup remaining strong despite the aforementioned departure of Suarez he may be a player managers will do well to watch with caution in the early stages until his true status in the squad is better clarified.

He is joined at Anfield by former Southampton team-mate – and international partner too – Adam Lallana, and the former Bournemouth loanee will be looking to establish himself at Anfield and maintain his England berth which he held admirably during the Three Lions’ indifferent World Cup campaign. He is valued in our competition only marginally more than Lambert, at €7.50m, and so the pair could be included for only €14.50m – two great talents for a relatively low outlay.

Another former Saint, Luke Shaw, completed a big money move to Man Utd and has been rated at €5.50m for the purposes of our EFL competition. This is a lovely valuation considering his actual transfer saw him become the world’s most expensive teenager at around £30m, and with the recent departure of Patrice Evra from Old Trafford to Juventus there is certainly room for Shaw to get himself plenty of football – he will surely be a cert to be included?