As Los Blancos put up the decorations and prepare to roll out the red carpet for a Galáctico signing after years of relatively low-profile activity in the transfer market, the talk is slowly, but steadily shifting towards the inevitable departures from Real Madrid in the summer. Not even Real Madrid have a bottomless treasure chest of funds to throw at players these days!
The spotlight is on two of Real Madrid’s past Galácticos, whose futures are becoming more of a foregone conclusion as the days roll by, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale, with a third, Mateo Kovačić, not far away either.
Football is a fickle sport and if anybody has embodied that in recent times, it’s James Rodriguez. Rodriguez, who joined Madrid in 2014 after rising to universal stardom at the World Cup in Brazil, never truly enjoyed the trust of Zidane and was shipped to Bayern in 2017 on a two-season temporary switch, with the Bavarians having an option to acquire him permanently.
Bale on the other hand is still in Madrid, haunted by an inconsistent scoring record relative to the standards demanded, staying permanently in the background of arguably the greatest player in Los Merengues’ history, Cristiano Ronaldo. Injuries, too, have followed him like a shadow follows its master and left us all imagining “what might have been...”
AS: Kovacic and James are two players that Zidane considers expendable and occupy similar positions to those of the two main objectives this summer: Hazard and Paul Pogba.— RMadridHome (@RMadridHome_) April 9, 2019
Meanwhile, Real Madrid have arguably the deepest quality depth in Europe at midfield with Isco, Kroos, Modric, Casemiro, Ceballos, Valverde and Llorente all competing for one of three starting spots. Even if Kovacic wanted to return (he doesn’t), or Madrid wanted to have him back (they don’t), he’d be hard-pressed to find proper playing time. And while Real are far from financial dire straits, they cannot afford to carry too much dead weight — there is a reason they are reportedly negotiating hard over a paltry £15m with Chelsea for Eden Hazard, after all!
Zidane believes Hazard can become 20-goal-a-season star for Real Madrid… his Chelsea masterclass against West Ham means Spanish giants are even more desperate to sign him https://t.co/Zi4JTOyGum— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) April 9, 2019
In years past, these stories would’ve taken the shape of outrageous “swap” deals, but with the transfer ban looming over Chelsea, Real will have to turn to others to help them free up space in the squad and on the wage bill. Much like Chelsea’s situation with overpriced players, such as Danny Drinkwater (an extreme example, to be sure), this may not be a straightforward mission. Not many teams can take on the wages of a James (€6.5m annual net) or a Bale (£600k per week pre-tax!) or even a Kovačić. But with Madrid apparently ready to tie the ship to Hazard’s right foot, just like Chelsea had done over the past seven years, they will probably figure out a solution.
Still, until then, we can hope for favorable outcomes (or not, as it were).