Are Real Madrid risking their crown by being conservative in the transfer market?
It may be unchartered territory for Real Madrid but their low-key presence in the transfer market can continue to reap rewards. The days of lavish spending are over for now, as Real Madrid continue to embark on a new strategy when it comes to recruitment; focus instead is on tomorrow’s stars, as opposed to those of today.
A project put in place from 2015 has already delivered success - and will continue to do so. The present and the future are in safe hands as far as Real Madrid are concerned.
A quiet summer left many wondering if Real Madrid would fall short when it comes to competing on all fronts, but the truth is the squad already in place was the envy of the world. While others -- like Manchester City and Manchester United -- had to overhaul their squads, Real Madrid only needed minor tweaks. That’s because the incredible foresight at the club envisioned an inflated transfer market and one where even Real Madrid could be blown out of the water.
Instead, the club have worked astutely. Toni Kroos cost just €30m in 2014, and though it may not seem long ago the market has changed considerably since. Although he was in the final year of his deal with Bayern Munich, the transfer represented a coup for what was about to come. A player of Kroos’ calibre would command at least €60m in the current market. The actions of Real Madrid at the top end, however, are not too significant here. It’s at the bottom, focusing on young talent, where they have impressed the most.
More players from the club’s academy have been given a chance, with Marcos Llorente, Nacho and Achraf Hakimi handed opportunities as opposed to spending money on signings. They have all proved more than capable thus far too, with Nacho surely one of the best stand-in defenders in the world, while Achraf has stunned with his confidence and natural ability since making his debut at the start of October.
Those who have come from elsewhere also pack huge promise and haven’t come at a premium, instead Real Madrid’s acted sharply to land the stars of tomorrow - some of which are already performing today. Theo Hernandez arrived from Atletico Madrid and can be a force to be reckoned with for the next decade, Vincius Jr. has been touted as one of Brazil’s brightest prospects in years and of course, there is Marcos Asensio.
The boy from Palma de Mallorca has perhaps been the most eye-catching achievement of this new approach from Real Madrid. As Barcelona baulked at paying the €4m it would require to take Asensio from Real Mallorca, there as no such issue for Florentino Perez who saw the move as low risk - with potentially staggering reward. His judgement has already been vindicated as Asensio is already setting about making history with the club.
Real Madrid did think about dipping their toes in the big transfer market with Kylian Mbappe but viewed the money being offered by PSG as astronomical. Despite greatly desiring the player, they would not jeopardise the current focus of the club. Mbappe was allowed to go to PSG despite his fondness for Zinedine Zidane - and the mutual appreciation - so Real Madrid can move elsewhere.
In the fast-paced world of football, other targets will emerge like Mbappe. The next star. And maybe next time PSG won’t get involved, as Real Madrid look to bolster their finances for the right type of player.
That is the thing. Real Madrid’s saving so much now that they are prepared in time to add to their squad when required. The view is at the moment, and it’s a well-judged one, that Real Madrid don’t need to create unnecessary competition in the squad and unbalance it. The current mix is just right, and save for a striker, they still appear to possess the best squad in the game.
There lies the only risk of Florentino and Zidane. They have bet big on Benzema, as well as an ageing Cristiano Ronaldo and injury-plagued Gareth Bale. While Borja Mayoral is extremely promising, he is by no means the finished article and will need nurturing over the course of the season. Zidane has already shown that when it comes to young talent, he’s astute in that regard.
Not only is Real Madrid’s past glorious and future bright, their present is also all in order.