Asensio receives congratulations from Benzema, Modric and Vinicius for a goal this season.David S. Bustamante (Getty)
The last attacker signed by Real Madrid was Reinier, in January 2020. The Brazilian, who cost 30 million, closed this Sunday with Girona another poor season in European football, which adds to his two invisible courses in Dortmund. You have to go back to the summer of 2019 to find the last profitable acquisition of the white club in the front: Rodrygo (45 million). Since then, in these four campaigns, the team has been pulling with the wear, celebrating the explosion of Vinicius and Rodrygo, and attending the happy swan song of Karim Benzema. The harvest of titles in this process of stretching the offensive rope has not gone badly (he has won all possible in two campaigns), but this summer circumstances force him to enter deeply into the forward market. He has been left alone with the two boys of the Canarinha. "We have to get our hands on it and we will do it, without haste," Carlo Ancelotti said with a colloquial touch on Sunday, after saying goodbye to Benzema and Asensio, as well as the inconsequential Hazard and Mariano.
The entity, with all eyes on Kylian Mbappé until last summer and before also on Erling Haaland, has resisted in recent years to carry out operations in that area of the field that did not fill his sight. The sting for the 60 million disbursed in 2019 for a Luka Jovic of zero performance, a Benzema who felt more comfortable alone, and the effects of covid were the main reasons that led the club not to intervene in that plot. The results did not create an urgency despite the constant chant of the need to sign a substitute nine. Benzema endured almost everything and then Vinicius joined him.
For this summer window, the idea was to sign that battering ram that reinforced a Karim with 35 years and already twilight, although the hasty goodbye of the Frenchman and the departure of Asensio (42 goals between them) open a hole and force a turn of draft in the attack.
Empowering Vini and Rodrygo
"We are looking for a striker who scores goals and partners well," Ancelotti said. Without real options, in principle, to hunt the two elephants of the jungle, Mbappé and Haaland, the intramural conversations pointed to the next step, Harry Kane (London, 29 years old), of Tottenham, who meets the requirements and satisfies the tastes of the Italian coach (he has not dropped from 24 goals in the last decade). The Englishman has long shown his intention to leave a decadent set (eighth in the Premier), although on the other side of the negotiating table would wait the thorny Daniel Levy, the president of the Spurs.
Apart from this operation with Kane or another battering ram with a starting line-up, Madrid has the arrivals of Brahim Díaz (Malaga, 23 years old) instead of Asensio, and Joselu Mato (Stuttgart, Germany; 33) replacing Mariano. The first, who comes from three seasons at Milan, aspires to extend his contract (expires in 2025). All of them would be the basic package, although not necessarily the only ones if the market offers other opportunities. The release of a not inconsiderable part of the wage bill after the last departures (12 million of Benzema, six of Asensio, 4.5 of Mariano plus the savings of the bulky salary of Hazard with the termination agreement) give the club a greater margin of action.
In these meetings to design the new stage, another of the points analyzed is the adaptation of the new pieces to the deployment of Vinicius and Rodrygo, and also how to enhance the growth of the two Brazilians. "We must bear in mind that we have two youngsters who are starting to have more prominence: Vini, since last season, and in this one Rodrygo has progressed a lot," Ancelotti warned. Behind them, in the core, the signing of Jude Bellingham (19 years old), from Dortmund, is very advanced, and on the left side the return of Fran García (23) is confirmed.
From eight to two
Transition has become a common term in Madrid's vocabulary to explain the evolution of a team that lifted four Champions League in seven campaigns. Until now, however, it had mainly affected the average and the defense. In the wide area are still Kroos and Modric, but next to them the club has already placed a battery of young people. Bellingham should be next. And in the center of the back he went from Ramos-Varane to Militão-Alaba-Rüdiger with hardly any convulsion. Now it is the turn of the front because Benzema fell (and left), and Asensio did not make the leap that was demanded of him and also left.
The above scenario has changed in a year at the speed of football: the bet to all or nothing was Mbappé and the Frenchman gave the sit-in; Karim caught the Ballon d'Or and collapsed; And the lead ended up almost empty. When Ancelotti returned to the Bernabeu in 2021, he found himself with eight strikers and now only two remain. Half, in truth, disappeared in the first blow of air (Mariano, Hazard, Bale and Jovic). This course started with only four tools and, in recent months, the involution of Karim and his subsequent departure, probably to Arabia, have led to seek other horizons yet to be specified.
This Wednesday at noon, the Frenchman will say goodbye in an act with Florentino Pérez and, except for a last minute change, he will not answer questions, a gesture that would further underline his elusive character of recent times. In the offices they are working for his replacement, although Ancelotti, before going on vacation, again warned that you can win without a center forward but not without sacrifice, solidarity and defensive commitment, qualities that Madrid has not always had this course.
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