Why Real Madrid must act fast on replacing Cristiano Ronaldo
Nine years, four Champions League titles, four Ballon d'Or, 2 La Liga titles and multiple other cups later, Cristiano Ronaldo has parted ways with Real Madrid. The legendary No.7 was the face of the Spanish giants in the last decade and rightly so. But, as somebody has said, every great story must have an end.
In the past few days, headlines were dominated by the news of Ronaldo joining Italian club Juventus for a fee of over a hundred million pounds. As a player who always took challenges heads-on, Italy will be a new pasture for him to conquer and let us all hope he will do so. Through the red of Manchester and the ivory white of Real, he has already conquered England and Spain. Now, it is time for him to make history with the Old Lady.
Cristiano will score goals, will win cups and will win hearts in Italy. But, what about Real Madrid? The football world witnessed history when Los Blancos were crowned the Champions League for the third consecutive time.
Real dominated Europe in the last five seasons, winning the Champions League on four occasions. Even though their form in La Liga has been patchy, Madrid were showing enough steel to keep arch rivals on their toes! But, with no disrespect to other players who shed sweat and tears for these achievements, Cristiano was a major driving force in Real's success over this period.
There were some rough moments in his career at Real Madrid, both on and off the pitch - his distasteful feud with his fellow countryman Mourinho, criticizing teammates, recent dip in form and the unfair criticism from the Real fans.
Even though he spoke well about the Madrid fans in public, it was no hidden secret that he never rated them as much as he loved the United fans. So, the breakup was imminent, it was just a matter of time. Cristiano has moved on, now it's Real's turn.
Madrid can look around and they will not be surprised with options they can go for. It will be a herculean task to replace someone like Cristiano, but they have to do so if they want to continue to dominate the world of club football. The architect and the warrior has left the Bernabeu, which has left a huge task of rebuilding in the hands of club president Florentino Perez.
Neymar looks like an ideal replacement for Cristiano. He can be an instant fan favourite with his tricks and goals, but also for ditching their rivals Barcelona, even though it was not a direct route. He also has the brand power which can be capitalized by the Real marketing team to mint some money. But a move in this summer looks highly unlikely as he hasn't proven enough at PSG and a lacklustre World Cup performance doesn't help his case either.
Mbappe is the next option. He is young, fast, prolific and a highly talented player. He is not the finished article yet but can tear apart defences if given proper guidance and mentoring. With experienced players such as Bale and Modric in the ranks of the record European champions, Mbappe can turn into a monster-striker in the coming years.
But again, the possibility of Mbappe joining Real this summer looks bleak. His love for Paris is one reason, and the situation in which he becomes a permanent PSG player this season is another. The only hope is the recent photograph of his childhood days, where he posed in a room full of Cristiano photos, which may send signals that he would follow his idol's footsteps in future.
Hazard looks like a real deal for Madrid at the moment. He has the flair, strength, experience and is a proven talent in the Premier League. He has just turned 27 and is enjoying his prime period. Hazard to Madrid is a real possibility, but we need to see if Perez really wants to push the button.
Rumours are also being built around other players who have had a decent World Cup. But, Madrid need to act quickly on the CR7 replacement, otherwise, they will fall behind in the race for talented players. A big task is at the hands of one of the biggest clubs in the world, and they have to act upon it.