Can Real Madrid Accommodate James, Ronaldo, Bale, Di Maria, Kroos in Same Team?

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Can Real Madrid Accommodate James, Ronaldo, Bale, Di Maria, Kroos in Same Team?
Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press

Real Madrid's annual muscle flexing raises more questions than it gives answers this summer.

In have come James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, while nobody of note has really departed the club—Alvaro Morata and Casemiro have joined Juventus and Porto respectively.

However, the questions that business has thrown up are questions any manager in football would like to have a go at answering.

Carlo Ancelotti is unlikely to prove any different.

Many expect Angel Di Maria to be the man that loses out as a result of the arrivals of James and Kroos—two players that shone at the World Cup in Brazil—and Marca's Pablo Polo has already suggested Paris Saint-Germain will pay €80 million for the Argentine.

Ancelotti, though, persuaded Di Maria to stay last summer and he seems keen for him to once again remain a Madrid player into next season, per Reuters:

"There is nothing new in the market," Ancelotti said when asked about reports Di Maria was set to join the Ligue 1 side for a fee of around €70 million.

"Di Maria finished the World Cup and he is resting," added the Italian. "He will return on Aug. 5 to start (training) together with his team mates."

Andres Kudacki/Associated Press
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

And if Madrid's boss gets his way, it will leave the club with an embarrassing of riches for the attacking midfield and forward positions.

But could he accommodate Kroos, James, Di Maria, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in the same team?

In theory he could, and there are two very exciting options to include all five which would strike fear into any defence—although it may leave Sergio Ramos and Co. struggling for protection at the back.

Imagine a front six of Kroos and Di Maria in midfield, with Bale, James and Ronaldo in front of them and Benzema as the lone striker.

As good as it sounds, there's very little defending in that combination, while it also leaves out the likes of Luka Modric, Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira—something Ancelotti will be loathe to do, especially in big games.

Another combination would involve chopping Benzema from the lineup.

Ancelotti could pair Kroos in a two-man midfield, leaving Bale, Di Maria and James ahead of them, with Ronaldo moving into a central striking role.

However it still feels defensively light, and Ronaldo, who often gets what he wants, may not be happy about being shifted about to make space for new signings.

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Therefore it's highly unlikely Madrid's talented boss—who Alessandro Del Piero described as "the best of all time" this week, per Inside Spanish Football—will find a way to utilise all five in tandem.

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That perhaps offers an insight into why Di Maria is seeking a move away from the Bernabeu.

It's understandable why Ancelotti wants to keep him: He offered energy, assists, a fantastic work rate and high levels of consistency throughout last season.

Unfortunately it's hard to see how he can keep him happy given the arrivals of Kroos and James.

Rotation would be OK to a point, but once the big games come around—Champions League nights, Madrid derbys and Clasicos—players begin to feel unloved when they're not included in the starting XI.

It's better to have these questions to answer than to not, but it doesn't mean Ancelotti is always going to get the response he wants.

If he can keep them all happy—like he managed to do with his goalkeepers, Iker Casillas and Diego Lopez, last season—then he’ll have a fantastic squad with depth few sides have boasted, but you have to imagine it will be extremely rare for them to regularly appear on the same team sheet.

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