Real Madrid have endured a dismal start to their league season as they now lie in sixth position in La Liga, six points below leaders Sevilla.
Los Blancos have remained dormant in the last couple of transfer windows and even refused to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the greatest player in the club’s history, in the summer.
The European champions must act quick if they are to challenge for any titles this season. These are some of the players Los Blanos must let go, keep and buy in the winter transfer window or in the summer at the very least.
Signed in 2013 after Real failed to convince Neymar to join them, Bale was touted to be a direct competitor to the Brazilian and the heir to Ronaldo’s throne.
It’s been five years and the Welshman has either failed to reach his peak or peaked too early during his days with Tottenham.
Either way, it’s clear that Madrid have failed to reap rewards on their €100million investment, a world record at that time.
Just three goals and two assists in 11 league appearances is unacceptable for a top player in a top team and Madrid’s president Florentino Perez must consider letting the winger go when he can still hope to fetch a respectable amount for a player who will turn 30 next July.
Bale’s team-mate at Tottenham, Luka Modric, has probably had the best year of his career, winning a third consecutive Champions League title and playing a key role in Croatia’s fairytale run to the World Cup final.
The 33-year-old was named Best Player by FIFA at the tournament and is a contender for the coveted Balon d’Or award. Surely selling him would be the last thing on Perez’s mind? Wrong.
The Croatian was close to a move to Inter Milan over the summer before the Italian club pulled out. However, it’s quite clear that Madrid don’t mind losing their superstar and understandably so, given his advancing years.
The midfielder has been awful this season and, at the age of 33, it would be extremely optimistic to expect him to improve. Madrid need to find a buyer before Modric’s stocks go down.
Arguably one of their best players amidst adversity, Marcelo has been linked to Juventus in a swap deal that would bring Alex Sandro to Madrid.
It’s highly unlikely that the Brazilian will force a move out but Los Blancos must do everything they can to prevent it.
At 30, Marcelo is still one of the best left-backs, at least in an attacking sense, in the world and has a minimum of three good years in him that Madrid must look to utilise in the best way possible. He’s also a hugely influential figure in the dressing room.
In a season where the front line has been under-performing massively, the Brazilian remains one of their best attacking options.
Isco is yet to start a game in the Santiago Solari era and the probability of things taking a U-turn are highly unlikely for the Spaniard.
The forward likes to play in attacking midfield and Solari prefers a 4-3-3 formation with Marco Asensio on the left wing.
However, the 26-year-old is a player who can bring a lot of quality to the team if orchestrated around him and Solari must consider this as a Plan B, given its high possibility of transforming into Plan A.
One of the best players in the Premier League, Hazard might just be the ultimate solution to all of Real’s woes.
The Belgian has enjoyed a brilliant season under Maurizio Sarri so far but he has not made any secret of his desire to move on, with Real expected to sign him in the summer, especially after a fine World Cup, but no move materialised.
However, the winger did mention in an interview recently that he would consider a move away from London if he does not extend his contract any time soon – and many in the know at Chelsea appear resigned to losing him next summer, when he will enter the final year of his deal.
Los Blancos must jump on the slightest hint which points to the fact that Hazard wants to join them and do anything to obtain the signature of one of Europe’s deadliest weapons.
Karim Benzema is way past his prime – despite his resurgence in the early part of the season – and Madrid lack a quality number nine who can make a difference in clutch fixtures.
Winner of the golden boot at the World Cup, Harry Kane is probably the best option in the market. The Englishman can replace Benzema or play alongside the Frenchman in a 4-4-2 formation.
Kane has sworn loyalty to Tottenham but considering that the forward has a higher chance to succeed in the Spanish capital, Madrid will believe they can coax the 25-year-old – who is nearing his prime – to join them.
Securing Hazard and Kane in one window might not seem financially sustainable but Los Blancos do have the winnings from their last Champions League campaign untouched and €100m from the deal that saw Ronaldo move to Turin still weighing heavily in their pocket. A gamble, that almost certainly promises returns, Madrid must take the leap of faith.
Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale claims teams that participate in the Champions League want to ‘play football’ after he played a part in his team overcoming Roma 2-0 away from home.
His suggestion can be interpreted as a thinly veiled criticism of some of the teams in La Liga that prefer to sit back with no real intention of scoring.
“It’s a different competition than the league,” he said to Real Madrid TV.
“It’s played differently against teams that want to play football, it’s natural, it’s hard to explain.”
The Welsh wizard has been the recipient of a harsh criticism this season after a poor run of form, but he found solace after he opened the scoring against Roma on Wednesday.
“We succeeded but we have to improve,” he continued.
“We must continue to win games, we have a new coach and we have to give ourselves time.”
The winger wants to build on the result against the Italians.
“It was a difficult start, but we have to keep growing, we have to follow the line of the second half against Roma,” he added.
“The first half wasn’t so good, we knew that by fighting and playing well we were going to have opportunities, and we are improving little by little.”
Los Blancos host Valencia on Saturday as they look to get their league campaign back on track.
Real Madrid found solace in the Champions League once more as a 2-0 win at Roma confirmed top spot in Group G following a humiliating 3-0 defeat to Eibar in La Liga.
The three-time reigning champions took a 47th-minute lead through Gareth Bale, who capitalised on Federico Fazio’s mistake.
That came after Cengiz Under’s woeful miss at the end of the first half and Real doubled their lead when Lucas Vazquez struck to secure top spot in the pool.
The result which booked them a round of 16 berth in this season’s competition also extended an outstanding record.
Madrid have now qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League on 23 occasions, the last 22 consecutively.
They also remain the team to have done so more times than anyone else.
Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United have managed to qualify from the group stage on 22 occasions, while Juventus have achieved it 19 times.