Real Madrid announce re-signing of Mariano Diaz from Lyon for €22m

David Cooper 29/08/2018
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Real Madrid have announced that they have completed the signing of Mariano Diaz from Lyon.

Just 14 months after being sold by the club to the French outfit, the striker is set to return.

Sevilla had agreed a €35 million deal for the forward but Madrid decided to trigger their first refusal, entitling them to his services for €22m after selling him for €8m.

Mariano was at Madrid from 2012 to 2016 but largely featured for the reserves, only making cameo appearances for the first team.

He is expected to bulk up Julen Lopetegui’s forward line currently consisting of only Karim Benzema and Borja Mayoral.

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Live Real Madrid Blog: Mariano Diaz signing from Lyon announced

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Hello Madridistas!

The Sport360 team is here bringing you the latest Real Madrid news on Wednesday.

As ever, get in touch with us throughout the day on Twitter and Facebook.

10:45pm – Real Madrid announce re-signing of Mariano Diaz

Real Madrid have announced that they have completed the signing of Mariano Diaz from Lyon.

Just 14 months after being sold by the club to the French outfit, the striker is set to return.

Read more here.

Mariano.

Mariano.

9:30pm – Benzema proving he can share Ronaldo burden with Bale

Karim Benzema has spent years in Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow but is finally ready to shine for Real Madrid, writes Sport360’s Brendon Netto.

Read the piece here.

7:50pm – Champions League draw

Teams will learn their Champions League group-stage opponents in Monaco on Thursday.

The draw for the pool phase begins at 6pm at the Grimaldi Forum, with the ceremony also seeing the winners of the UEFA Player Awards being announced.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah is on the shortlist for the men’s player of the year award, along with Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric.

Read more here.

5:05pm – On this day..

Nine years ago, Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Madrid and the rest is history.

11.30am – Whites celebrate Ronaldo‘s latest award

Real were quick to acknowledge their club legend’s award after the Portuguese star claimed the UEFA Goal of the Season for his incredible bicycle kick effort against Juventus.

11am – Sterling link with Bernabeu grows

Manchester City attacker Raheem Sterling is still on Real Madrid’s radar, with reports suggesting Los Blancos could try and sign the England star next summer.

Read more, here.

Raheem Sterling moved to City in July 2015 from Liverpool.

Raheem Sterling’s contract talks at City haven’t progressed.

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Benzema's form for Real Madrid means Bale isn't alone in replacing Ronaldo

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Time often seems to move quicker in sport than in other walks of life and football is no exception. A team’s fortunes can turn on its head, taking it from crisis mode to a promising resurgence within a week.

For Karim Benzema, a couple of months have made all the difference to the narrative of his Real Madrid existence. At the end of last season, the Frenchman was most likely to be sold by the Spanish giants after scoring just 12 times in 47 appearances in all competitions.

During his trophy laden two-and-a-half year spell as Madrid boss, Zinedine Zidane would repeatedly come to his compatriot’s defence, citing his intelligence, movement and overall contribution as justification for his consistent inclusion in the team, even at the expense of Isco and Gareth Bale at times.

Whichever way you slice it though, 12 goals over the course of a season from Madrid’s first-choice striker is an exceptionally poor return and quite simply, unacceptable. Zidane’s resignation soon after winning a third successive Champions League title appeared to be the final nail in the coffin for Benzema.

The likes of Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski were touted as possible replacements while ever-improving Inter Milan forward Mauro Icardi featured among the rumours as well. But everything changed midway through the summer.

While all eyes were trained on the knockout stages of the World Cup, Cristiano Ronaldo stole the headlines like only he could as news of his transfer from Madrid to Juventus broke. Suddenly, finding an upgrade to Benzema was no longer pressing. Replacing Ronaldo and keeping hold of Bale took priority.

With Madrid losing at least 40 goals a season with Ronaldo’s departure though, the club were still fully expected to sign a striker at some point this summer, but that it would be a good omen for Benzema’s future in the Spanish capital has come as a surprise.

Los Blancos’ decision to exercise their right of first refusal and re-sign Mariano Diaz from Lyon is an emphatic vote of confidence in the Frenchman’s ability from new manager Julen Lopetegui.

While Mariano has impressed with 21 goals for the Ligue 1 outfit last season, prompting Sevilla to launch a €35 million bid for the striker’s services, he is very much viewed as back-up for Benzema at the Bernabeu rather than first choice. Having featured in the reserve sides and briefly as a squad player for the first team from 2012 to 2016, Mariano’s return to the fold should be seamless.

There was plenty of substance in Zidane’s claims regarding Benzema’s contribution. He was always part of an illustrious and expensively assembled supporting cast for star man Ronaldo.

In the Portuguese’s absence, Lopetegui has begun to extract more from the other top players at his disposal and Benzema is certainly one of them. Every one of their starting XI are superstars in their own right who were kept from reaching their full potential while operating under Ronaldo’s shadow. No one epitomises that more than Benzema.

Benzema was always Ronaldo's sidekick.

Benzema was always Ronaldo’s sidekick.

For nine years, the 30-year-old played second fiddle to the former Manchester United star. With every passing season, he was sacrificing more and more of himself as a striker to feed a relentless goalscoring machine that he could perhaps never compete with. Whether it was coming short so Ronaldo could dart in behind, dragging defenders away with decoy runs or simply laying it off for him when he could’ve easily let fly himself, Benzema always unselfishly provided the platform for his celebrated team-mate to shine.

The Ronaldo era is now confined to the history books as far as Madrid are concerned and Benzema is already proving capable of spearheading a fresh start. The striker has scored in each of his opening three competitive games for the club this season and was particularly impressive most recently against Girona.

After having a well-taken goal ruled offside, he kept his composure to score from the spot before tucking away Bale’s pass for his second late on. With three shots, three key passes and a pass success rate of 87 per cent, Benzema was among the best players during his side’s 4-1 away victory that took them to the top of the La Liga standings on goal difference.

We’re seeing a new Benzema at Madrid, or perhaps the old one from his heyday at Lyon is finally being coaxed back into the spotlight. For that reason, at €23m, it makes sense for Lopetegui to bulk up his forward options with the capable Mariano and perhaps reserve funds for that ‘big-money’ signing – possibly Neymar – for next summer.

Many pointed to Bale as the natural heir to Ronaldo’s throne and while the Welshman is promising to excel this season, it was always unfair to lay that burden solely at his albeit gifted feet. That cross should not be just his to bear and a rejuvenated Benzema is proving that it doesn’t need to be either.

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