6 Transfer Moves Real Madrid Must Make to Stay Ahead of Barcelona

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2012

6 Transfer Moves Real Madrid Must Make to Stay Ahead of Barcelona

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    Americans are notoriously xenophobic about sports sometimes, claiming that Duke-North Carolina or Yankees-Red Sox is the best rivalry on the planet. But those of us who aren't so obtuse know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the world's best rivalry exists in Spain, between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.

    The two squads are mainstays at the top of the La Liga table year after year, and they end up facing each other in the finals of almost every premier cup.

    Both teams also have international superstars––Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo––in the primes of their careers, who both have a claim as the world's top player.

    But in the wake of watching Spain—a team with a preponderance of Barcelona players in the lineup—dominate the European Championships, it's clear Madrid needs to make some moves this offseason to stay on par with them.

    Here are six moves they should make to stay on Barca's level.

Yaya Toure

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    Club: Manchester City

    Real Madrid needs some help at the defensive midfield spot, and Toure is one of the best in the world, making this a match made in heaven.

    The Guardian reports that he has all but moved on from his successful run at Manchester City, and mentions Real Madrid and Bayern Munich as potential landing spots.

    Particularly when playing against Barcelona, whose entire offense is predicated on dominating possession and making creative plays in the midfield, a strong defensive midfielder is of paramount importance.

    Toure would give them a much better chance of hanging with Barca.

Gregory Van Der Wiel

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    Club: Ajax

    Van der Wiel, the young right-back who has starred for Ajax and the Dutch National team, has been explicit about his desire to move to a high-profile team this year.

    Real Madrid would certainly seem to fit the bill, no?

    Right-backs are always hard to find, and Van der Wiel is one of the world's most promising players at the position.

    He is said to be open to the move, and he would provide them with yet another quality defending option against a strong Barcelona offense.

Luka Modric

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    Club: Tottenham

    Just because he looks like Lady Edith from Downton Abbey doesn't mean they guy can't ball.

    Modric has been a mainstay at Tottenham the past few seasons, playing a creative midfield role to perfection.

    He augmented that success this summer at the European Championships, helping Croatia almost advance from Group D over eventual finalists Spain and Italy.

    Of all the rumored transfers, he seems the most likely to head to Madrid, and also the most controversial (since many argue the Galacticos don't need another creative midfielder).

    But Madrid isn't exactly scraping up change to buy him (they have plenty of money), and in the high-scoring La Liga, it can't hurt to have yet another top-flight offensive threat on the field.

Branislav Ivanovic

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    Club: Chelsea

    The 28-year-old Serbian has been a rock at the back of Chelsea's defense the past few seasons, gaining universal praise and being selected the top right-back of the 2009-10 Premier League season.

    Ivanovic's appeal, however, lies more in his versatility—in addition to playing right-back, he has also starred in the center when called to do so.

    He has admitted his interest in Real Madrid following Chelsea's championship this season, and it would be a huge coup if they could land him.

    His defensive versatility could allow them to try new things against Barcelona's vaunted attack.

Gonzalo Higuain

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    Club: Real Madrid

    The transfer season is just as much about who you don't retain as who you bring in.

    And for Real Madrid, if they truly want to assert their dominance, they would be wise to let Gonzalo Higuain walk.

    Both sides appear to agree mutually on this point, as Higuain has already been rumored to numerous clubs, including Manchester City. 

    While Higuain is a great striker, his departure is vital, because it would clear a spot in the lineup for the next player on this list.

Didier Drogba

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    Club: Chelsea

    Drogba has already informed his Chelsea teammates that he will not return to the club, leaving on a high note after winning the Champions League in 2012.

    That means, for the first time since 2004, Drogba will be suiting up elsewhere next season—and Real Madrid may be his most likely landing spot.

    Drogba is 34, but he's still dangerously fast and explosive, and he has a nearly unparalleled scoring touch. 

    It is hard to beat Barcelona by trying to control possession—they will always beat you at their own game. But with speed and explosion, you can attack them in a way that they're incapable of.

    Joining Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba would give Madrid two of the five most explosive finishers on the planet and make them the ostensible favorites heading into next season.