Real Madrid's season is all but over after they were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League semifinals by Borussia Dortmund last week, meaning attentions will inevitably turn towards summer and the impending transfer window to see where improvements may lie.
True, the Santiago Bernabeu side still have the Copa del Rey final to look forward to, but in a season when they were defending their La Liga title and hoping for "La Decima" in the Champions League, it is scant reward to come at the end of a long season.
Of course, speculation still rages over whether Jose Mourinho will be in charge next season, but regardless of who sits in the dugout, Real will be looking to hit the transfer window hard this summer.
Here are four players that they should be looking to sign this summer to improve their squad.
With the emergence of Raphael Varane as a worthy first-team central defender, and stalwart Sergio Ramos alongside him, Real's back line has a solid feel about it that could last years to come. Either side of them, however, there remain questions at full-back.
On the left, Fabio Coentrao and Marcelo have an on-going battle for first choice because of form and fitness, but on the right there appears to be an obvious option for Real to improve.
Alvaro Arbeloa is a steady and solid option, but a year ago Real sold to Bayer Leverkusen one of the more complete young attacking full-backs around—in Dani Carvajal. Thankfully for fans of the Spanish side, a buy-back clause was included in the deal to take him to Germany, and it seems Real might well be looking at taking up that option in the summer (via Goal.com).
For more on why Carvajal would be such an important signing for Real, read Allan Jiang's breakdown here.
With Lass Diarra no longer at the club and Michael Essien's loan spell due to end soon, Real will have only Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira and Luka Modric as recognised senior central midfielders in their squad ahead of next term.
They'll certainly, therefore, have to add one to their list, even if it is a squad option who can assist the first-choice players and cover for them at times, with the potential to break through in the coming seasons as a regular.
One name who might fit the bill is Sevilla's Geoffrey Kondogbia. The central midfielder is just 20 years old but has made a good impression this season, playing 33 times in all competitions for his club and impressive in a range of midfield roles.
His athleticism and power mean he can provide support in from of the defence, protecting them and distributing the ball simply, but he is also more capable in advanced positions, pushing forward from deep and contributing to the buildup phases of play.
In all the Real Madrid first-team squad, only Luka Modric has recorded a more consistent pass success rate than Kondogbia this season.
It's a bit of an open secret that Real Madrid would love to sign Tottenham Hotspur attacking midfielder Gareth Bale this summer, and his future may be determined by whether Spurs can finish in the top four this season and secure a Champions League spot. To that end, Wednesday night's match against Chelsea could prove pivotal to which club he plays for next season.
Capable of playing anywhere in the line of three behind a centre-forward, Bale would be pretty much a perfect fit for Real with their fast and direct style of attacking, and playing from the right would maybe be as much of a mirror-image of Ronaldo on the left as they could find in world football today.
He would score shed-loads of goals, no doubt, if he were to move to Real Madrid—but he'd also cost them a shed-load of cash to get in the first place, with rumours for the transfer fee going up to £60 million in some media outlets—The Mirror, for example.
Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain are the two senior strikers on Real Madrid's books, but neither of them—especially with this season's form—can realistically lay claim to being among the top forwards in world football. For a team of Real Madrid's ambition and size, they should certainly be looking at having one of the very best around, rather than two from the next level of quality to provide their goals.
There could be several top strikers on the market this summer, but while their rivalry with Atletico Madrid might preclude a move for Radamel Falcao from being made, Edinson Cavani should be well within their sights.
The Uruguayan has scored 26 goals this season, top scoring in Serie A for Napoli, and the 26-year-old is surely ready for the biggest challenge in his career this summer. A move to Real Madrid would be the ultimate test of his capabilities, and the club would be getting a striker in the form of his life—but still with plenty to prove and win.
Given his ability to both hold up play and finish off fast attacking moves, he could be the perfect tactical fit for the Spanish side. If they have a spare £50 million or so, plus a million-a-month wages available.