5 long-term replacements for a declining Sergio Ramos at Real Madrid
The unedifying spectacle of Dejan Lovren trying to clown, Ramos, has been a headline story recently. This has served in some way to deflect from what has been a terrible campaign for the Real Madrid and Spain captain.
An undoubted legend at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Ramos is Los Merengues' heartbeat, leader and on-field general.
His displays against England and Croatia in Spain's recent UEFA Nations League losses have been poor, to say the least. He played a leading role in both 3-2 losses as La Furia Roja threw away a great start to finish second in League A, Group 4 behind the English.
He has also been very bad for Madrid as the team has had a torrid 2018/2019 campaign so far. This cost coach Julen Lopetegui his job. Although results have improved somewhat under Santiago Solari, Ramos still looks like an accident waiting to happen.
Florentino Perez messed up badly in failing to anticipate/plan for Cristiano Ronaldo's departure. There should have been a plan to replace him even before the transfer happened. He will be wary that such does not re-occur with his captain.
Currently aged 32, Ramos still has a way to go but Real Madrid needs to begin planning for his inevitable decline/departure.
Here is a look at 5 potential replacements who could slot in for El Captian both now and in the long-term;
#5 Jorge Mere (Cologne)
Real Madrid has always had a Spanish presence in the heart of its defence. Jose Antonio Salguero, Manuel Sanchis, Fernando Hierro, Ivan Helguera and now Ramos are a few of the great Spanish centre-backs to have donned the all-white jersey.
The Oviedo-born Meré could be the latest example of this trend. His arrival on the scene for Sporting Gijon was met with widespread enthusiasm. It was believed that he had everything needed to get to the top.
The youngster has been unfortunate to have been in weak teams (Sporting Gijon were relegated from La Liga two seasons ago while Cologne was relegated from the Bundesliga last season). However, he has been prominent for the Goats who currently sit 2nd on the Bundesliga.2 table.
A good reader of the game who defends with intelligence rather than brute strength, Meré is good in the air and is aggressive - traits that he shares with the player he would replace if he ever moves to the Santiago Bernabeu.
He could be a great understudy and eventual replacement for Ramos. He will also be a cheaper option compared to other potential targets.