Why is No One Talking About Real Madrid? by AT Israel
Last summer was an important one for Arsenal. A new coach arrived and five new players joined the club, with all but one of them turning out as more-than-OK signings. But the team still has holes all over and this summer is going to be another important one. Perhaps the most vital one of Emery’s tenure from a medium-term point of view.
Another great summer like the last one and we should find the top-four a considerably easier challenge with the nucleus of a title-challenging squad in place. But there are financial hurdles in place that can only be scaled if we qualify for the Champions League and buy smart to secure genuine talents on the cheap just like in the last major window.
So where do we find these bargains?
There have been strong rumours linking us to South America, lower Premier League sides, Barcelona, Portugal and just about everywhere except where these exact kinds of footballers are stacked and scattered about like a rich kid’s toy collection: the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real Madrid have a large, prestigious squad. They are having an awful season where many of their veterans have disappointed and their youngsters have thus been able to stake a claim. But reports out of Spain indicate that the merengues want more and want it now. They are clearing out 14 players this summer, or so we have heard, and it will be quite remarkable if Arsenal does not find any of these players interesting enough to play for us.
Unlike their eternal rivals, Real Madrid as of recent are sitting on a bucketload of young and potentially available players capable of making an impact in the first team. The products of their academy have been really impressive but as the extremely wealthy club they are, they plan to add more and more senior stars to their squad this window.
We currently have a need for a leftback who is good enough to start while also being one for the future. It would be a plus if he were defensively sound. Our defense also needs a big, commanding centre-back who can pass the ball like Pirlo (or at least better than Koscielny and co). Then there’s the issue of a replacement for both Ramsey and Elneny (who is presumably also leaving this window). Ramsey’s replacement must be capable of threatening the opponent’s goal with his attacking contribution while also retaining the ability to run back and press. Elneny’s need not be the best around, just someone young with enough talent to inspire hope. Then we need at least one winger who can play on the right. Somebody who can drive at defences, beat their man, skip a challenge or two and pick off a perfect pass for Aubameyang to bang inside the net. We could do with another winger on the left but that would not be a great sign for Reiss Nelson, whom we are purportedly planning to fit on that wing.
Real Madrid currently have four leftbacks in Full-hair Brazilian Marcelo, Theo Hernandez with the snowy Justin Bieber cut, Sergi Regulion who has recently been keeping Marcelo out of the first team picture and, of course, Achraf Hakimi, who can play on both side of the field. They are also reported to be close to signing Ferland Mendy from Lyon to add to the squad.
We should go for Sergi Regulion who, despite having his breakout season, has not played enough to be very costly. He has also been fantastic defensively for Real and can get forward to contribute well enough. In fact, he is a remarkable player who looks destined to play leftback for a top team. Why can’t that team be us?
Theo Hernandez is a bit more complicated. He was acquired from Atletico Madrid as a future star, but hasn’t done quite enough to displace Marcelo. He is still a big talent but could cost more than 25 million euros, which could be a problem. I believe Regulion, who is already better in my opinion, will cost less than that or otherwise would represent better value for money.
At centre-back, Nacho and Jesus Vallejo are not quite good enough and so we should look elsewhere.
Elsewhere is midfield where I am genuinely excited. Real have Modric, Kroos and Casemiro as their nominal starters. But this season they have James Rodriguez, Isco, Dani Ceballos, Martin Odeegard, Brahim Diaz, Marcos Llorente and Federico Valverde, any of whom I am completely convinced would be a great boost to our midfield. James and Isco would perhaps be the most difficult to acquire, along with Diaz who just joined from Manchester City and has been making a good impression. Dani Ceballos is likely to become a regular for the Spanish national side and we should honestly make an attempt to get him. If his role seems a little too vague, then there is still plenty to be excited about in Federico Valverde and Marcos Llorente. Valverde is an absolute gem. A freakish box-to-box player who is physically built to dominate the midfield with his Rabiot-esque height and athleticism. He is essentially a more mobile, roving Bentacur and is set to complete a golden generation in Uruguay’s midfield. In 2015, according to a Tribal Football article, Arsené Wenger was hellbent on bringing him to Arsenal while he was still a 17-year-old starlet on the books of Penarol. The legendary coach did succeed and Valverde ended up training with our first team with a penalty fee of 4 million euros over his head if he got injured. Unfortunately, Real Madrid turned his head stronger than we could. Though highly-rated, he would be relatively easy to afford. Because Real Madrid don’t use him that much, they would probably accept something around a 25 million euro deal or maybe less than that. Especially if they are getting new midfielders this summer.
Llorente is a more basic option, though spectacular in his own right. Llorente is not a box-to-box player like Valverde. He is more of a defensive midfielder like Casemiro (or our own Torreira) and he is absolutely decent at his job. I don’t see much need for him since he would probably take away playing time from Lucas Torreira.
Another attractive option is Martin Odeegard. The former wonderkid has been tearing up the Eredivise this season and was the only player that is not from either Ajax or PSV to be given a place in the division’s team of the year. Extremely talented, with a high ceiling, all he needs is some good coaching to reach his potential as a winger or 10. Despite his poor physicality (though he’s certainly tall), Odeegard is quite sound defensively. If he reaches his peak, we could have a player as immaculate as Zidane on our hands. Ajax are rumoured to be extremely desperate to have him but Real Madrid know the gem that they have and are rumoured to only be interested in a loan or a sale with one of their ruthless buyback clauses. His transfer fee is reported to be about 20 million euros.
Up forward, Real could be open to a loan for Vinicius Junior, seeing as his playing time could be seriously limited if they do get Eden Hazard or any other world class winger in his position. It is really difficult to forget Vinicius burning the entire left wing for Real against Barcelona and Ajax in the El Clasico and Champions League respectively.
There is also the possibility of Lucas Vazquez, Mariano Diaz, or Gareth Bale, but none represent a too attractive option presently. Vazquez is not exactly the type of winger we need and he would be expensive anyways while Mariano Diaz for a backup centre forward would mean blocking the path of Eddie Nketiah. Gareth Bale is, well, Gareth Bale. Very capable of the spectacular performance or injury. He would also cost a lot. Our midfield urgently needs some backup. With Elneny and Ramsey leaving, we would only have Torreira, Guendouzi, and Xhaka as deeper midfield options. Federico Valverde is bound to be a future star and he would be an amazing replacement for Ramsey. We should attempt to get him.
Or if not, we can secure any of Real’s young leftbacks for a relatively cheap amount.
Real Madrid are currently sitting on a treasure chest of talented players in positions where we are severely lacking. It would be utterly baffling if we let other teams get to these players before we do.
A. T. Israel