How do Real Madrid possibly improve on last season’s double-winning campaign?
It’s hard to say, and given the strength and depth throughout their squad, it’s perhaps harsh on us to pick out five players who will face a battle for more first-team football next term.
Nevertheless, we’ve put a list together five names who may have to convince Zinedine Zidane they deserve to be regular fixtures in the Whites ranks.
While we have left the likes of James Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata out given intense speculation they will switch clubs this summer, what do you make of the players we have included?
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The Brazilian star has been heavily linked with a move to Chelsea and should Zinedine Zidane decide to keep the right-back at the Bernabeu, then surely this is his last chance to prove he can be a Whites regular.
Since signing from Porto in 2015, the 25-year-old has been a bit-part player in each of the past two seasons and struggled to nail down a spot.
He needs to only look at his fellow countryman – Marcelo – as a man in which he should try to emulate.
VERDICT: The ex-Porto man is more than a handy squad player to have but surely he must crave more than that? He is said to be happy in Madrid and is unwilling to leave so next season is key for him.
With both Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane suffering fitness issues last term, it’s his chance to shine.
The 26-year-old finally came into his own in a Madrid shirt last term – making 50 appearances in all competitions – playing, in the process, a strong hand in Real’s La Liga triumph.
Vazquez agreed a new contract at the Bernabeu last year and is clearly part of Zidane’s plans, but in a fiercely competitive attacking midfield area and with new signings expected, he needs to stay on top of his game.
VERDICT: After two good seasons at Los Blancos, Vazquez will have to maintain a high level again next term with Gareth Bale returning to top form after injury.
The 23-year-old started just 19 matches in La Liga last term and played a minimal role in the club’s Champions League success, with Caesmiro – himself not a regular – preferred often in central midfield areas.
He has been linked with a move to Manchester United but may get one more chance to prove his mettle for the Whites next term.
Kovacic is clearly a talent but given Real have been linked with stars like Marco Verratti, his future could well be in doubt.
It’ll be interesting to see whether the Croatian opts for more football or sticks it out and fights for his place. Either way, Kovacic needs to get back to the level he reached during his final season at the San Siro.
VERDICT: It’s going to be a huge few weeks ahead for Kovacic, and with Los Blancos’ big summer tour of the United States on the horizon, it’s a time where he needs to impress.
The Madrid-born defender is living the dream at his boyhood club and last season made 39 appearances in all competitions – the most he has appeared during a single campaign.
While he has grown in stature every season since making his debut back in 2011, the 27-year-old needs to make a defensive spot his own in the Real line-up. Can he do it next season?
With Theo Hernandez incoming at full-back, the Spain international will have more of a fight on his hands to play.
His future is guaranteed at the Bernabeu at least, but does he want to take his game to the next level?
VERDICT: Madristas like having one of their own in the ranks and Nacho fits the bill, so whenever he is called upon, the crowd get behind him. He just needs more games and greater consistency next term.
Yes, indeed, a surprising name on this list given how important (when fit) he is to Real in defence – but that’s the problem – issues over his fitness.
While he hasn’t got a point to prove as such over his ability, the 24-year-old struggled with injury last season and Zidane must have worries over his consistency.
VERDICT: Varane needs a strong pre-season under his belt to convince Zidane he is able to partner Sergio Ramos in central defence next season.
Despite being eliminated on penalties against Chile in the Confederations Cup semi-final, Cristiano Ronaldo has enjoyed a phenomenal season.
After winning Euro 2016 with Portugal, he scored twice in the Champions League final to finish as the tournament’s top scorer and secure a second consecutive crown for Real Madrid, making them the first team to complete the feat.
Meanwhile, he was also his team’s top scorer in La Liga as they claimed their first title in five years. Ronaldo scored a total of 25 goals in the league.
The video below uploaded on Real Madrid’s official YouTube channel looks back at each of those strikes.
Which one was your favourite?
Zinedine Zidane’s men are currently on their holidays and after a gruelling season which yielded yet another Champions League trophy, La Liga title, the European Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, they deserved every bit of it.
But when the full squad return for pre-season training on July 10th, things will quickly get hectic again as they soon depart on their tour of the United States.
Star forward Cristiano Ronaldo will be part of that but his holidays were rescheduled due to his involvement with Portugal in the Confederations Cup.
Los Blancos will contest a number of high-profile pre-season friendlies, starting against Manchester United on July 23rd in California before the Whites take on Manchester City four days later in Los Angeles.
Real then end their stint in the States with a mouth-watering clash against Barcelona in Miami on July 30th.
After that, the competitive football kicks off as Real and Manchester United play in the European Super Cup final on August 8th in Macedonia before Real take on Barcelona in the two-legged Spanish Super Cup.
The La Liga fixtures have yet to be announced.
Below are the crucial dates in Real Madrid’s pre-season schedule:
Real return to training and will be managed by lead fitness trainer Antonio Pintus for the first eight days.
Real Madrid vs Manchester United, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California
Real Madrid vs Manchester City, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles
Real Madrid vs Barcelona, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Miami
EUROPEAN SUPER CUP
Real Madrid vs Manchester United, Philip II Arena, Skopje, Macedonia
SPANISH SUPER CUP – FIRST LEG
Barcelona vs Real Madrid, Nou Camp
SPANISH SUPER CUP – SECOND LEG
Real Madrid vs Barcelona, Bernabeu