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Where can Real Madrid add strength this summer?

Wednesday 13th June 2018

Real Madrid won their third successive UEFA Champions League title in Kiev to end the season, the first club to do so in the Champions League era and since Bayern and Ajax both did it between 1971 and 1976. Of course, Alfredo di Stefano's RM won five out of the gate when the European Cup was first staged in 1956. Los Blancos made the run under three managers: Luis Villalonga Llorente, Luis Carniglia and Miguel Munoz. Perhaps Zinedine Zidane thought new blood was needed to match the feat. Julen Lopetegui now takes charge. Here are the key areas club president Florentino Perez should look to improve to provide the new boss with the best opportunity to succeed.

Goalkeeper

Real Madrid currently have Keylor Navas, Kiko Casilla and Luca Zidane as goalkeeping options.

Navas is an excellent shot stopper on his day and has pulled off some amazing saves this season, but he does make mistakes at times. One error nearly cost Los Blancos a spot in the Champions League semi-final. The Tico keeper should be a rotation player at best or leave the club if he doesn't suit the role. Kiko Casilla is at best sporadic. Luca Zidane still has a long way to go before he can even think of claiming the number 1 jersey. 

Real have been linked with David De Gea for about three years now but that deal looks unlikely. Other players who may interest Real include Roma's Alisson Becker, Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois, Milan's Gianluigi Donarumma, Bilbao's Kepa Arrizabalaga and rival Atletico's Jan Oblak. Anyone of them would be a fantastic acquisition. Real must sign a world class goalkeeper at any costs.

Defenders

Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane belong in the discussion of best defensive partnerships in the world. There is no doubting that. Both are extremely talented defenders, capable of playing out from the back, calm under pressure and get the job done. Ramos goes out and does the dirty stuff required to win. Varane is the calming presence beside him.

Even so, Real Madrid concede significantly more goals than Barcelona and Atletico, their primary rivals. The Vikings shipped 69 goals in 62 games during this campaign.

When it comes to cover, Los Blancos have only Nacho Fernandez and Jesus Vallejo. Fernandez is a crucial squad player who can deputize anywhere at the back. Vallejo is a young centre-back, talented but inexperienced. He impressed on his loan spell at Eintracht Frankfurt but has not been able to kick on since, having made only 12 appearances. 

In the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Juventus, Ramos was suspended and Nacho was injured. Vallejo was needed. Although the youngster didn't make any errors, he looked nervy, suggesting he wasn't ready. 

Varane has frequent knee problems and Ramos can be expected to miss a few games every season due to suspensions and knocks. The Merengues need a quality centre-back in reserve.

Jose Maria Gimenez is most often mentioned. The 23-year-old Uruguayan is an able, young defender who can be Ramos' long-term replacement but also do the job now. he will add competition to the position. However, prying him away from City rivals Atleti may prove as difficult as luring De Gea away from Manchester.

Real Madrid does not need to sign new fullbacks, Achraf Hakimi and Theo Hernandez have great potential and need the correct guidance and game time to progress. They are good cover for Dani Carvajal and Marcelo.

Midfield 

You don't mess with perfection. What else do you call Luka Modric, Isco, Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Lucas Vazquez, Marco Asensio and Mateo Kovacic, Marcos Llorente and Dani Ceballos?

Forwards

Real Madrid is overly dependent on Cristiano Ronaldo's goals. When Ronaldo was not firing in La Liga's first half, Real struggled. The moment Cristiano started firing, Zizou's team clicked and started winning. By then, Los Blancos were already out of the title race and Copa Del Rey. Ronaldo finished the season with 44. Gareth Bale chipped in with 21. Karim Benzema finished with a mere 12 goals.

The main fact is none scored consistently over the season. Bale had a good start and end to the season but couldn't stay healthy in the middle stage. Benzema's finishing was inadequate. Backup striker Borja Mayoral only scored 7.

Real Madrid desperately need another scoring winger and a new striker. Benzema certainly does his job as a sort of false 9, making those unselfish runs, holding up the ball and linking up play, but he is too comfortable. There is no competition to push him. Perez needs to splash the cash and sign a world-class number nine. Harry Kane won't be available. Mauro Icardi and Robert Lewandoski might be.

There are rumours about Bale and Ronaldo leaving, however unlikely they may be. Bale is injured far-too-often and Ronaldo often starts the season late. Another quality winger who scores 20+ goals consistently would relieve the pressure. Eden Hazard and Neymar are the names that have been linked with a move to Madrid for quite some time. Either would be a perfect heir to Cristiano Ronaldo. Sadio Mane has also cropped up in the conversation. 

Overall, Real Madrid don't need to turn over a dynastic roster just yet. Filling out the edges will do nicely.

Vedansh Nathani

Manchester United fan from India. Follows almost all sports - football and pro-wrestling in particular. Wayne Rooney, Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho are some of his favourites.


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