These observations — where I look Real Madrids history, its loan players, Castilla, tactical tidbits and other relevant thoughts – is now a fixed thing. All previous editions can be found here.
Less than three weeks have passed since the season ended on June 4, in Real Madrid’s final game of the season against Athletic, with Karim Benzema leaving the pitch as a club legend to a standing ovation from thousands of appreciative fans.
Since then, Real Madrid have already announced four new players: Jude Bellingham, Joselu, Fran Garcia and Brahim Diaz. It has been an active, busy start to the summer transfer window.
But are those signatures enough? ONE video posted by a fan this weekwhere Florentino Perez was seen responding with “none” to a supporter who asked if there will be more signings, the fan base panics. The club’s second-highest goalscorer of all time, Karim Benzema, has left. Marco Asensio, who scored 12 goals and provided eight assists last season, has left. Mariano Diaz and Eden Hazard have unceremoniously bowed out.
That leaves question marks in the attack. How will next season shake out if Florentino Perez really means it when he says it no more signatures? Here are three questions:
In a vacuum, Joselu is a good signing. He’s a risk-free veteran presence and appears to be, somehow, at 33, in the prime of his career. His 16 goals this past season was a career high. He was the third top scorer in La Liga. He also provides a real aerial threat. No player in all of Europe’s top five leagues won more aerial matches (281) in the 2021-2022 season. This season, only two players won more aerial duels in La Liga. And all it took to bring Joselu – a former Castilla player – back to the club was a paltry loan fee.
Joselu is a player the club could have really benefited from signing last summer as insurance for Karim Benzema. Better late than never. His signature now still makes sense. It’s hard to say no to an experienced player on the cheap, especially one as competent as Joselu, who is also one of your own.
But asking Joselu to lead the line is risky and having him as Real Madrid’s starting striker game-in, game-out is a bit above his pay grade. Benzema was a superstar. As well as being a better goalscorer than Joselu, he was an elite playmaker and organizer. He set up the initial line of defense. Joselu, with all due respect, is a significant downgrade as a passer, ball carrier and overall player.
In short, Joselu is not enough, but he can become an important piece.
After the video of Florentino Perez who answers “none” while signing autographs for a fan who asked him “will there be more signings after Joselu?” went viral, the fan base in plain and simple terms melted.
My initial reaction – a sentiment that Euan Mctear shared with me on a Sunday night podcast – was that we are collectively reading too much into that video. It is always best to under-promise and over-deliver. Why would a president come out and publicly tell a fan?yes, we are signing more!‘. Doing so only puts pressure on the board but, more importantly, does the club no good in the negotiation room if the hands are revealed publicly in such a way.
Real Madrid lost Benzema and Asensio, while ‘freeing up’ two more attacking spots with the departures of Mariano and Hazard (although, in the case of the latter, will still pay part of his wages). There are still gaps to fill. Maybe Joselu getting the ’14’ and not the ‘9’ is a hint that there is still one more big signing left in the tank.
In short, I don’t think Florentino was telling the truth, but if he is, the club are in for a rude awakening next season.
The striker market isn’t great right now. Splashing on someone who isn’t a top star striker seems like a tough pill to swallow. Some of the names thrown out may not be worth the juice. The elite strikers are either impossible to obtain or have a risk factor involved. Harry Kane is the best goalscorer outside of the Mpabbe – Haaland duopoly, but Real Madrid have always had reservations about splashing big money on players his age. (I think 100m+ for four years of healthy Kane is worth it, but that’s a whole other article.)
There have been no connections with Victor Osimhen, who would cost north of 120m. Dusan Vlahovic, 70m+, doesn’t bring enough to the table outside of goal and he scored just 10 of them in Serie A last season. Lautaro Martinez is better than Vlahovic, but also significantly more expensive.
But Real Madrid could go another way and go with younger, cheaper options on players who are on a promising trajectory. A player like Goncalo Ramos, 22, could be a good fit. Ramos is a good goalscorer and heavily involved in build-up play – though not nearly as polished in his link-up play as Benzema. He would be cheaper than any of the aforementioned names, and a depth chart of Ramos, Joselu and Rodrygo as a false nine could work.
But you already know where this is going: Committing to multiple contracts in attack comes in the way of you know who: Kylian Mbappe. Mbappe’s contract runs out in 2024, and perhaps there’s a chance you could send your spare cash to him this summer or wait for him for another year while relying on Alvaro Rodriguez and Joselu as your plan B in the meantime.
But relying on Mbappe, who could at any moment renew PSG on another mega-deal, is a huge risk. There are real consequences for not being good next year, including financial penalties for missing out on prize money, something that can easily happen if you can’t compete with the best teams in the world due to a lack of goals.
In short, if Florentino is telling the truth, it is because he is waiting for Mbappe, which is a huge risk, but it would certainly be worth it to get him this summer.