Real Madrid might regret allowing Mariano Diaz to leave… again

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.

Mariano

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.

How well do you know European Football? Want to challenge the best Spanish Fantasy Managers? Play www.liga-fantasy.com now.

Is there a role for James Rodriguez back at Real Madrid?

He was the star of the 2014 World Cup and the last true Galactico signing. Real Madrid have a habit of picking up the best player from any given major tournament. Take Mesut Ozil, for instance, who shone for Germany at the 2010 World Cup only to make a move to the Santiago Bernabeu that very same summer. Rodriguez was Real Madrid’s 100-pound marlin to show off for the cameras in 2014.

And yet the Colombian never quite settled into his new surroundings in the Spanish capital. He was far from a failure, scoring once every three appearances over three seasons for Real Madrid. James was a La Liga winner during his time there, also winning the Champions League twice. There was just something about the player that Zinedine Zidane didn’t take to, though.

jamesrod

As we all know, James was shipped out to Bayern Munich on loan with the assumption that the Colombian would eventually make the move to Bavaria permanent. The two clubs had even negotiated a future purchase price of £35 million, which would surely be activated after the initial two-year loan deal.

Now, however, James’ future is up in the air. Niko Kovac is believed to be edging the Colombian back towards Real Madrid, with the Bayern Munich boss leaving the playmaker out of his team for the crunch clash with title rivals Borussia Dortmund two weeks ago. That was taken as a sign that Kovac no longer sees James as a part of his plans for the future.

So would there be a place at Real Madrid waiting for James? Previously, one of the issues for the Colombian at the Santiago Bernabeu was that he occupied one of the three places permitted for non-European Union players in La Liga. Zidane wanted to free up James’ spot for others.

James has recently gained Spanish citizenship, though, and so Real Madrid wouldn’t have to use one of their non-EU places to keep the Colombian international in their squad. It’s certainly true that Zidane needs renewed creativity across his attacking line and so James could come in handy in this regard.

But would James really displace Isco in the Real Madrid first team, though? With Eden Hazard and Paul Pogba widely expected to join the Spanish giants this summer, James would largely be a peripheral figure at the Santiago Bernabeu. A player of his ability should perhaps expect better for himself.

How well do you know European Football? Want to challenge the best Spanish Fantasy Managers? Play www.liga-fantasy.com now.