5 Potential Replacements for Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid
That hasn't stopped rumors intensifying over his future ahead of the summer transfer window, though.
In England, Manchester United and Chelsea have both been linked with him (via ESPN), and over in France it's been suggested PSG are prepared to offer him a handsome some of money to relocate to Paris (via The Express).
There's nothing that points towards his departure yet, but if he does leave, who could Real Madrid replace him with? Could they even replace him?
There's very few like-for-like replacements, so the following slides feature players that could either replace his goals or take his position...
1: Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)
Gareth Bale is the most obvious and most suited to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, although it's thought Real Madrid would like them both in their 11.
The Tottenham man scored 21 league goals this season, equaling a club record, as his development from left-back into one of the world's most sought-after players continued.
He possesses the pace to match the Portuguese forward, is most suited to playing on the left of an attacking triumvirate—he's often played centrally too—and, it seems, he can score from pretty much anywhere.
Since the Premier League has finished, it's been suggested Tottenham are close to agreeing a new deal with him (via The Guardian)—although Real Madrid would surely be a more appealing option for the Welshman.
2: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Versatile, brilliant on his day and likely to be available for a move this summer, Wayne Rooney is one player worth considering if Cristiano Ronaldo leaves this summer.
If Sir Alex Ferguson has deemed him unworthy of a starting place at Manchester United so often this season, would Real Madrid want him?
He has still managed 13 goals and 13 assists in the Premier League and Champions League this season, but it is unlikely Madridistas would be happy if the Englishman replaced their 50-plus goals per season star.
3: Isco (Malaga) and Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Spanish newspaper AS tweeted on Monday night that Malaga were in discussions with Real Madrid over a potential transfer involving Isco.
The 21-year-old has won a great deal of praise for his performances this season, both domestically and in Europe, and is likely to move somewhere, if not Madrid, this summer.
However good he's been, though, he doesn't offer the stature, nor the goals, that Ronaldo does.
He could fill his position on the left, but Los Blancos would need to find goals from somewhere else.
The money that Madrid would receive for Ronaldo should stretch to these two.
4: James Rodriguez (Porto) and Luis Muriel (Udinese)
Colombians are quite fashionable at the moment, and it won't be surprising to see their national team have a good run at next summer's World Cup.
From Radamel Falcao at Atletico, to Fredy Guarin at Inter, Jackson Martinez at Porto and a number of defenders scattered across Italy's Serie A, it's fair to say the country is experiencing a football boom.
With that in mind, why don't Real Madrid replace Cristiano Ronaldo with a couple of Colombians?
Hedge their bets.
James Rodriguez is an impressive 21-year-old forward who could play the exact role of Ronaldo. It's not clear which way he will go yet—remember Ricardo Quaresma at Porto?—but he has excellent potential.
Then there's Luis Muriel, a 22-year-old striker who strikes more parallels with Real Madrid's former Ronaldo, the Brazilian one.
He's been loaned out for most of his career, but has began to flourish at Udinese this year.
5: Neymar (Santos)
It's probably nothing more than a cheap shot at winding up their old enemy, but Neymar, other than Gareth Bale, does provide the most realistic replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo.
In terms of positions, skills, goals and marketability, the Brazilian would be a valuable asset to Los Blancos.
However, he seems set on a move to Barca, and the sensible train of thought is that Madrid will be forced to pursue other options.
Neither would be a direct replacement, but both are capable or replacing the void of goals Cristiano Ronaldo would leave behind.
Both are available, albeit at substantial fees, but it is unknown if Radamel Falcao would move directly from Atletico to Real.
Juan Mata (Chelsea)
Juan Mata is, for a short time only, the holder of the World Cup, European Championships, European Cup, Europa League and European U21 Championships...
He's nowhere near a like-for-like replacement, but would Madrid turn their noses up at him?
Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund)
Reus has enjoyed a memorable first season at the German club, but would he be able to turn down the lure and money of Real Madrid?