It’s summertime in Madrid and always a volatile time when Real Madrid president Florentino Perez ruminates over possible new signings. Or on this occasion his new manager, or the returning manager, Zinedine Zidane. These moments are often accompanied by club clear-outs which over the last few summers have seen the departure of James Rodriguez, Mesut Ozil, and Alvaro Morata – not long after returning from Juventus. All of whom followed the departure of Angel di Maria to Paris Saint German months previously. This summer has proved no different with the exit of Ceballos and the ongoing efforts to offload Gareth Bale. Zidane clearly disinterested in keeping the Welshman
Open rumours suggest that Neymar is a possible target – although he has no buy-out clause - but cost PSG £198M when he moved from Barcelona a few seasons ago. If Neymar did arrive in Madrid, he would join a distinguished roster of his countrymen that played at the Santiago Bernabeu over the decades. Regretfully, few of whom have been outstanding during their stay, as the likes of Kaka arrived past his peak; Robinho never matured into the promising talent he was; with Ronaldo similarly arriving late in his career and not making a good account of himself beyond 2002 season. The injuries beginning to take their toll on his body.
The most successful being Roberto Carlos and then in more recent seasons, Marcelo. Both allegedly defenders yet more devastating in attack than in their primary roles. Although Casemiro is a favourite of Zidane, in the middle of the park, it remains to be seen whether he hits it off with thee more agile players like Eden Hazard. Who is what Madrid need given the talented Luka Modric is now on the wrong side of thirty-three – and last year was facing possible prison time in Croatia. A charge which has now been cleared.
Though an argument can be made that Neymar fits well into that left-wing spot left vacant by Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus, it is Gareth Bale’s more natural position as he has been second fiddle to Cristiano for the past three seasons. The Welshman made his name at Spurs rampaging down the left flank and that was what made him attractive to Madrid and saw him debut for Wales side under John Toshack. Himself a former Real Madrid manager.
What does seem very clear is that James Rodriguez is not making a return to the Spanish capital from Bayern Munich after his two-year loan period. With an unsettled Matteo Kovacic now moved to Chelsea’s, it leaves Karim Benzema has one of the highest buyout clauses at £886 million and not going anywhere at 30 years of age. But Zidane is keen fan on his fellow Frenchman at number 9 and so Karim won’t be leaving. As all managers find out when they arrive at Madrid the club’s commercial needs overrule the playing needs and so attacking midfielders Isco and Marco Asensio once tipped for a bright future at the Santiago Bernabeu - and have hefty release clauses. But they were on the Zidane sell list as he looks for funds to buy another Frenchman, Paul Pogba, a move proving difficult. With Asensio now seriously injured in preseason and Isco looking very fit they won move.
The German Tony Kroos has also attracted interest from the Premier League and at 28 - with three Champions league medals and a World Cup - might feel a change might be good. But he just signed a new deal until 2020 amidst rumours that either of the Manchester clubs were keen on signing him. But Real Madrid perhaps couldn’t afford him to lose him if Perez is targeting the 2019 La Liga title. Although as a life sided player he does add to the clutter with Bale.
Summer transfers will be defined by the arrival of Eden Hazard, yet the former Chelsea player has yet to impress those in the Spanish capital and started pre-season notably over weight.
Zidane is being frustrated on his return and unable to get all the purchases done as he wishes and knocking heads with Perez more than is safely recommended. They say one should never return to a place where success was tasted because it’s never the same second time around. .That deja-vu is obviously dawning on ZZ and he may find it a tougher job this time around.