Pete Jensen: Real Madrid want a new No.9 to compete with Benzema, who turns 36 next year… Signing Mbappe or Haaland is questionable.
- Real Madrid curses missing out on Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe
- They will be looking for a new number 9 this summer to compete with Karim Benzema
- The gambles on Mariano Diaz and Eden Hazard playing as the wrong nine have backfired.
Real Madrid are cursing the loss of Erling Haaland after Karim Benzema’s humiliation in the semi-final against Manchester City last summer.
Holland did not find the net over two legs, but only Thibaut Courtois’ performance prevented him from scoring a hat-trick in the second game, while Benzema remained anonymous for more than 180 minutes.
Madrid will sign a centre-forward this summer to compete with the Frenchman, but their decision not to fight for Hollande’s signature last year has been blamed on Kylian Mbappe.
Hollande’s father and agent Alfie included Madrid on his whistle-stop tour of top European clubs, but the player moved from Borussia Dortmund, but they ruled out trying to compete with Manchester City because they believed Mbappe had turned him on. Signed at PSG to join them on a free at the start of this season.
What happened next still haunts the club – the 24-year-old stunned them with a last-minute decision to renew with PSG and left them with two of Europe’s best young strikers.
Karim Benzema didn’t get a stamp in Real Madrid’s semi-final surrender to Man City.
Madrid’s decision last year not to fight for Erling Haaland (left) has paid off on Kylian Mbappe (right).
The club gambled on three fronts to cover the lack of big signings. First, they hoped Benzema could repeat his incredible tally last season. He has scored 29 goals in 57 games this campaign, compared to 44 goals in 56 matches last season when he won the Ballon d’Or.
Gamble number two is that, having missed out on Mbappe and Halaand, Eden Hazard – who will operate as a false nine – will finally get a good fourth season at the club.
But Madrid’s top earner has only started four games all season and does not provide a serious alternative to Benzema. Madrid are still stuck with the Belgian’s whopping £400,000-a-week wages for one season.
Project number three, reserve centre-forward Mariano Diaz could weigh in with goals, but he has not scored since last May and will finally leave the club at the end of his contract this summer.
Neither Holland (left) nor Mbappe are realistic short-term targets for Carlo Ancelotti (right).
Neither Haaland (contracted with City until 2027) nor Mbappe are realistic short-term targets this summer.
Madrid will only attempt to sign Mbappe if he is out of contract, as they were last summer. PSG have no intention of letting him go this year, so they know they can’t keep him.
That could change when there is some suggestion the player has a release clause in 2024, but Madrid are adamant he has to come to them even with that possibility – they won’t pursue him.
Don’t believe in alternatives. Harry Kane is considered to be at the wrong end of his career and the younger Dusan Vilahovic is too expensive.
Much of the investigation into Madrid’s surrender at the Etihad centered on the arrival of the 19-year-old England midfielder Jude Bellingham and the club confident of completing the signing.
Bellingham is seen as the key to reviving a midfield that was chased into the shadows by Rodry and company on Wednesday night.
The gambles of centre-forward Mariano Diaz (left) and Eden Hazard (right) did not pay off.
It won’t be the last of the new arrivals this summer. Fran Garcia has agreed terms to return to the club he has already represented at youth level.
The Rayo Vallecano left-back will be joined by a new right-back, with 31-year-old Dani Carvajal providing stronger competition than replacement winger Lucas Vazquez currently provides.
But it is in attack that Madrid must find a solution. Benzema will be 36 this time next season and if the opposition shut out Vinicius, they cannot afford another situation where they shut out Madrid.
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