Real Madrid Transfers: 6 Possible Replacements If Cristiano Ronaldo Leaves
Last week here on Bleacher Report we took a look at Real Madrid's iconic No. 7 Cristiano Ronaldo and the teams who are rich enough to sign him should he ever cast glances away from the Santiago Bernabeu.
After that particular piece provoked much discussion both amongst Real Madrid fans and supporters of other clubs, this follow up should similarly spark debate—who could the Spanish side replace him with?
Of course, after selling one of the best footballers in the world it's not a mere matter of "replacing" them. Elite players have their own skill set, technical and mental, which can rarely be directly exchanged.
But Real would of course move on as a club, bring in another player to be successful and continue their own progress.
It's worth noting that these are not linked players, just a look at positional similarities or who could do a great job for Real Madrid from a similar area of the pitch as Cristiano Ronaldo now occupies.
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Let's start right at the top. Playing from the left side of a front line, there is one player in world football who is potentially on the market and is potentially as effective as Ronaldo—and that is Brazilian forward Neymar.
Blessed with great acceleration, wonderful dribbling technique and a real aggressive desire to get into the box, tactically-speaking he might be the closest fit to replacing Ronaldo that Real Madrid could hope to go for.
He can certainly score plenty of goals too and has the marketability to ensure that Real lose out neither in commercial activities nor on the pitch.
Nicolas Gaitan is currently playing for Portuguese side Benfica, though it seems likely that sooner or later he will move to a more competitive division.
Gaitan has played often from the left side so would be perfectly comfortable in the role, though he would operate very differently from Ronaldo.
The Argentine attacking midfielder really prefers to play centrally where he can dictate play and surge forward at will, and would likely be the type to tuck infield rather than directly attack the opposition penalty area if he played in the wider role at Madrid.
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Chelsea's Juan Mata is another player similar to Gaitan in that he is more used these days playing from a central position, or even from the right where he can cut infield onto his left foot, but he is a fantastic player from the left side as well.
At Valencia he regularly played on this flank and was a constant menace, creating chances and getting into the box often.
Mata has grown as a player in his season at Chelsea and is becoming a more complete footballer, and would be a magnificent addition for Real Madrid.
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How about taking the "Manchester United route"?
When Ronaldo left Old Trafford it was Nani who stepped up to fill his shoes, and the winger has not been shy in letting people know about his desire to receive a better contract or else secure a move elsewhere.
Nani is far more inconsistent and confidence-dependent than his Portuguese counterpart, but shares an ability to run past players and score goals at his best.
Capable of playing on either flank, Nani could still prove a very effective player despite not quite hitting the heights expected of him.
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Not one of the bigger names but with one of the best attitudes in the game and an ever-improving performance level, Andre Schurrle could go on to be a massive player for club and country.
Capable of playing up front or from the left side, he can score goals, beat defenders and works very hard for his team.
Schurrle might need another year or so playing regularly for his side Leverkusen to begin to get the recognition he deserves, but the youngster is a real talent and will be a fine signing for whoever eventually secures his signature.
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Oh dear, we went there.
Any Real Madrid fan takers? Any Barcelona takers, for that matter?
David Villa is Spain's record goalscorer of all time and is a mighty fine forward, but he is no longer a first choice starter for the Blaugrana.
Yes, he spent the majority of last season injured and it will take him time to re-find his sharpness and scoring instinct on a regular basis, but with games he could easily become one of the highest scorers in the league again.
Would Real take a gamble on bringing him to the club?
Would Villa risk the last years of his career at the very top with switching between the two enemy clubs?
Probably not in both cases—but goodness it would be interesting if they did, don't you think?