Real Madrid Players Who Should See Increased Playing Time This Season
There have been plenty of new faces around Ciudad Real Madrid, Los Blancos' training ground this summer.
For starters there is a new man in charge of directing the preseason workout, Carlo Ancelotti replacing Jose Mourinho as the club's manager.
Then there's the returning Dani Carvajal, fresh from a season at Bayer Leverkusen, and big-money arrivals Isco and Asier Illarramendi. Casemiro has also made his loan move permanent since the end of last season.
But, despite all the new faces, perhaps it should be some familiar ones which begin to make more of an impact this season.
The following slides list some players who should see more time on the pitch throughout the 2013/14 campaign...
After Christmas Luka Modric began to see much more time in Jose Mourinho's first XI, ending the last campaign as one of the club's most consistent performers.
It will have come as no surprise to those that had seen him on a regular basis at Tottenham, but it was nice for the little Croatian to shake off the tag of last season's worst signing awarded to him by Marca's readers in December 2012.
With Mesut Oezil and Isco likely to get the nod ahead of him in the attacking triumvirate, Modric deserves to become a regular feature as one of Carlo Ancelotti's two central midfielders behind them.
Raphael Varane's goal and performances in the Copa del Rey semifinal against Barcelona elevated him towards the top of Europe's most highly rated youngsters.
Because of his young age and the established partnership of Sergio Ramos and Pepe, the Frenchman only started 12 matches in La Liga last season, making three more appearances from the bench.
With that experience behind him, providing he stays injury free, it seems highly likely that Varane and Ramos will become Carlo Ancelotti's first-choice pairing at the back.
Karim Bezema made 30 appearances in La Liga last season—only 19 were from the start of a match though, meaning he struggled to sustain any momentum.
With Gonzalo Higuain now moved on to Napoli though, the French forward will be keen to fully make the No. 9 role his own under Real Madrid's new management team.
Marca have already suggested Zinedine Zidane, Carlo Ancelotti's No. 2, wants to see the 25-year-old handed full responsibility in the side and a chance to build on the 11 league goals he managed last season.
Early indications are that Carlo Ancelotti is set to put much more emphasis on Real Madrid's canterano.
If that is to be the case, Alvaro Morata stands to be the biggest benefactor. He only started five matches last season, scoring two goals, and will be hoping for plenty more chances over the next 10 months.
Gonzalo Higuain's departure pushes the 21-year-old up the pecking order, and he'll presumably start the season as Karim Benzema's deputy—providing Cristiano Ronaldo isn't used centrally—while he could also play wide.
Jese Rodriguez ended any speculation over his future this summer by penning a deal which keeps him at Real Madrid until 2017.
Marca reported that the 20-year-old's new deal is worth €1 million a year with a €200 million buyout clause (via ESPN).
He didn't appear in La Liga last season but, following 22 goals for Real Madrid Castilla in La Segunda, will form part of Carlo Ancelotti's first team next season, offering options across the front four.