Urgent signings Real Madrid must make
Under Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid dominated Europe. The Merengues won back-to-back-to-back Champions Leagues, four in five years if you count Carlo Ancelotti's La Decima on the far side of Barcelona's intervention.
It's not that Real played the best football. Their players knew how to win. Last season, they finished a distant third in La Liga but beat the Ligue 1, Serie A and Ligue 1 champions on the way to their 13th European Cup.
Even more important to Madrid than their winning mentality was Cristiano Ronaldo's presence. When the Portuguese hitman lost his scoring form, Real struggled. When he found it, they took off. It's difficult to decide whether the club misses their talisman or manager more. Regardless both have left and the club must continue as though they had not.
However, all these achievements are past events. Zidane and Ronaldo's time is complete. It's Julen Lopetegui's era. Florentino Perez made a big mistake in letting go of the Portuguese. His presence overshadowed the team's flaws. All the flaws are now exposed. The 4-2 defeat to Atletico in the UEFA Super Cup after twice leading showed how Ronaldo was missed.
To face the new season's challenges, the Merengues must recruit not to replace the irreplaceable but to provide squad depth. Barca and Atleti are stronger than last season. Claiming domestic honours won't be an easy task. They couldn't do it last season with Cristiano. Further, talk of a fourth straight Champions League title is audacious, although audacity carried them this far. If the squad prepares as they've always done, who can stop them?
Lopetegui should start by acquiring a prolific no.9. Robert Lewandowski is ideal. Considering the rumours surrounding his unhappiness at the Allianz Arena, luring him to the Santiago Bernabeu could be done. When we talk of footwork, Lewa is good. When it comes to scoring from headers, he can't be left out. The Pole suits RM's style.
The team also need a player who can drive in from the side and cause havoc in opposition defence. Sadio Mane, Eden Hazard and Neymar all have this quality. If they go for either Hazard or Neymar, the Merengues can then approach Liverpool for Mohamed Salah to increase competition and replace Gareth Bale on the right flank.
Paul Pogba will add strength and creativity to the midfield although I don't see Manchester United letting him go.
If we're being honest, it's difficult for them to procure even one of these picks. I've just suggested Florentino Perez spend more than a half billion euros to add depth to his squad. That makes Paris Saint Germain and Manchester City look like retirees at a swap meet.
Zidane spent less than a hundred million during his 30 months in charge. He gave opportunities to young players such as Lucas Vazquez, Marco Asensio, Mateo Kovacic and Achraf Hakimi while allowing veterans such as Pepe and Fabio Coentrao to leave. Critics constantly decried his tactics but he somehow won three Champions Leagues while barely spending. Now, Julen Lopetegui must prove he can do the same.
It isn't as easy as Zizou made it look. I have a feeling his successor will be wishing he had a half-billion to spend come January.