Why Real Madrid and Juventus both must sign centre-backs this summer
When we think about Juventus and Real Madrid, we usually think about excellence, titles, domestic domination, and European success. We also think about world-class players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric, Gareth Bale, Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala… and the list would go on and on. After all, we are talking about two top teams in the European scene.
As top sides, these teams will always be linked to high-quality and world-class players during the transfer market. And that’s exactly the topic we will touch base on because these two sides need reinforcements ahead of the 2018-19 season. But it’s not the names you think about. Instead of thinking about Juventus adding (yet another) forward, or Real Madrid signing someone like Mauro Icardi, Robert Lewandowski or Harry Kane, these two sides need to focus on their defence, first and foremost.
Let’s think about if for a minute and break down the case for each side as to why signing a centre-back should be their number one priority during the upcoming transfer market.
The case for Juventus
If we look at Juventus’ numbers in the Serie A, they might not need to make an upgrade on defence. They still have Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli, plus Mehdi Benatia and Daniele Rugani to play on the centre-back position. That’s decent depth, but we would need to look past the names to realise that The Old Lady need to move quickly if they want to remain competitive.
First, let’s remove Rugani from the equation since he’s not good enough to be a starting centre-back for Juventus. Barzagli is already 37-years-old, and his retirement should come at any moment. Chiellini is 33 and slowly getting past his prime, but he is still good enough to start for at least one more year. That leaves the 31-year-old Benatia as the only in-prime, reliable centre-back for the foreseeable future. Therefore. adding at least one younger, talented centre-back should be a must for Juventus this summer.
There are several names that could work in a potential transfer. Kostas Manolas (AS Roma) and Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli) would fit the bill nicely, and both are more than used to playing in the Serie A so could be worthy additions to the side.
The case for Real Madrid
Real Madrid’s case is quite similar. Their centre-back depth chart includes two clear-cut starters in Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, one decent backup in Nacho, and one player that might never be good enough to play for Real Madrid in Jesus Vallejo, although the latter is still young (21-years-old) and could potentially improve in the coming years.
One could think that adding another centre-back might be too much... but what happens if, for instance, Varane or Sergio Ramos suffer a long-term injury? Vallejo is not ready to start on a regular basis, and Nacho represents a clear downgrade in terms of quality compared to the other two options. Just as Real Madrid has forwards – Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio – and midfielders – Mateo Kovacic –that could easily start elsewhere buried on the bench, they should do the same thing with their defensive depth, where they are seriously lacking quality.
Manolas could be an interesting alternative, and recent reports have indicated that the Greek international has been offered to Los Merengues. Other alternatives could be Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund) and Clement Lenglet (Sevilla), as both are tested in a top league and are relatively young.
At the very least, this is an alternative that both clubs should consider.