Despite the incredible form of talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, last season was a disappointment for Real Madrid. Failing to retain the Champions League after losing to Juventus in the semi finals, beaten by Atletico Madrid in the last 16 of the Copa Del Rey, and worst of all, missing out on the league to rivals Barcelona, all culminated in the sacking of manager Carlo Ancelotti in May. If Los Blancos are to stand any chance of claiming back La Liga from Barcelona they might need to strengthen a squad that has seen more big name departures than arrivals in recent times. Here are five players new manager Rafa Benitez could sign to maximise their chances…
1) Paul Pogba
Following the departure of Sami Khedira to Juventus, there is space in Real Madrid’s midfield for a word-class holding midfielder, and they don’t come much better than Paul Pogba. Even at his young age, the 22-year-old is considered one of the best players in the world, and was named by The Guardian as one of the ten most promising young players in Europe. The central midfielder is as comfortable defending as he is going forward, and could provide some midfield stability around Madrid’s attacking flair players. The Frenchman was a star performer for Italian side Juventus last season, helping them to win Serie A for the fourth consecutive time, beat Lazio in the Copa Italia Final, and reach the Champions League Final. Juventus won’t want to lose the young midfielder, but general director Giuseppe Marotta has admitted they will listen to offers if Pogba decides he wants to leave, fueling speculation that Juventus brought in Khedira to cover his possible departure. But if Pogba does leave, will Madrid be his destination?
2) Ricardo Rodriguez
While Marcelo has recently signed a new contract keeping him at the Bernabeu until 2020, the left back position needs some cover at Real Madrid. Fàbio Coentrao, Madrid’s current left-back cover, has reached a point in his Real Madrid career where he isn’t happy sitting on the bench (when he isn’t injured that is) and Madrid could do with some more reliable cover. Ricardo Rodriguez was a key figure for German side Wolfsburg as they finished runners-up to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga last season and lifted the German Cup. The 22-year-old came to prominence at the 2014 World Cup with some excellent performances for Switzerland as they reached the last 16. Rodriguez would provide excellent cover for Marcelo whilst even possibly challenging for a first team place. At 5ft 11, Rodriguez is more of a physical presence in defence than Marcelo and could help Madrid keep enough clean sheets to win La Liga.
3) Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The player that needs no introduction. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is certainly a one of a kind footballing personality, but it is his formidable strike rate and impeccable technique that could tempt Real Madrid to bid for the imposing forward. As rumours circulate that Los Blancos might be selling Benzema with clubs such as Arsenal interested, Zlatan would represent an ideal replacement as an out-and-out striker. The 6ft 5in Swedish striker has refused to rule out a summer move away from current club PSG, stating that his future is in the hands of his agent Mino Raiola, and interest is sure to be high in Sweden’s all-time leading goal scorer. The former Barcelona striker could be tempted into trying out life in the capital, but Madrid would need to match his huge wage demands as one of the highest paid footballers in the world.
4) David De Gea
A list of potential Real Madrid signings would not be complete without a certain Spanish goalkeeper. News of De Gea’s potential move to Los Blancos has dominated the summer’s transfer window so far. It’s not difficult to understand the interest in the 24-year-old shot stopper; De Gea was a stand out performer for Manchester United in what was a rather underwhelming season for The Red Devils, rescuing them on multiple occasions with some world-class saves. Following the departure of Madrid legend Iker Casillas to Porto, manager Rafa Benitez has identified De Gea as his ideal replacement. It was thought Madrid might have let Sergio Ramos go in the opposite direction as part of the deal, but Benitez has recently come out to say that Ramos is an integral part of his plans and won’t be heading to Manchester. Whether he can still make De Gea his number 1 remains to be seen…
Whether Sergio Ramos leaves or not, it’s never a bad idea to sure up your central defence, especially considering Madrid conceded almost twice as many goals as champions Barcelona last season. Argentinian central defender Otamendi is a player who would almost certainly add some consistency to defence, having led Valencia’s defence to a very successful La Liga campaign with the league’s third best defensive record last season. Otamendi was instrumental in defeating Real Madrid last season, scoring the winning goal to end their club record of 22 consecutive victories. Despite this, it is reported that Otamendi has expressed a desire to leave Estadio Mestalla, and Madrid could be potential suitors as he looks to add trophies to his already impressive career.