As far as underwhelming replacements go, Real Madrid’s signing of Mariano Diaz as their number seven following the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo was right up there with Manchester United handing Michael Owen the same number after the exit of the Portuguese forward nine years previously.
Of course, Mariano was never really meant to replace Ronaldo. He wasn’t even meant to be a first team figure upon his return to the Santiago Bernabeu just one year after leaving for Lyon. The Spaniard was signed to ease Real Madrid’s dependence on Karim Benzema and to provide the Frenchman with some competition for his place.
There were good reasons to believe Mariano could do this. He’d just enjoyed a highly successful season with Lyon, proving to many that he could handle the pressures of playing first team football. Opportunities, however, were few and far between for Mariano last season, with the striker now reportedly on his way out of Real Madrid again.
Arsenal have been mentioned as potential suitors. A loan to another Spanish Liga club has also been mooted. Either way, it seems likely that Mariano will once again leave Real Madrid by the close of the summer transfer window. Zinedine Zidane, it seems, has made his mind up on the player.
Real Madrid might regret allowing Mariano to leave… again. They might have splurged a lot of money on signing Luka Jovic from Eintracht Frankfurt, they might still have Benzema and now Eden Hazard to provide additional goal threat from the wings, but depth will still be required in the attacking third, especially if players are to leave the Santiago Bernabeu between now and the start of the new season.
Marco Asensio, Isco, Lucas Vazquez and Gareth Bale could all be sold this summer, with Real Madrid keen to get rid of some of their deadwood. This is necessary, but cutting away too much could leave them thin in the attacking ranks. Mariano could be one of the players worth keeping around.
Look at the options Barcelona have across the frontline. They have Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele and Malcom. On top of this, the Catalans are expected to complete deals for both Antoine Griezmann and Neymar this summer, giving them the strongest attack, not just in Spain, but in Europe.
Real Madrid are in the midst of a squad overhaul. Players have already come and gone and there will be more change before the close of the transfer window. Mariano will likely find himself caught up in this, but Real Madrid should consider whether allowing the striker to leave might see them repeat a mistake.
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