Top 5 Candidates to Become Real Madrid’s Next Galáctico
During his first reign at the helm of Real Madrid, Florentino Pérez promised that he would bring a galaxy of stars to Los Blancos. He declared that the Satiago Bernabéu would become the greatest stage in world sports, featuring the best players in the entire world.
In order to accomplish this seemingly impossible feat, he promised to bring one new mega-star to Madrid every offseason that he was in control of, regardless of how the team fared during the previous campaign.
Astoundingly, this strategy was incredibly successful for Real Madrid—at the beginning at least.
He brought Luís Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and David Beckham to the club in successive years; during those campaigns he captured two La Liga titles and won the Champions League.
The strategy stalled after Beckham joined the club, however, as Real Madrid seemed to transform more into a business than a football club—Los Vikingos were raking in the money, but not the trophies. It would take another four years, and a new president for Madrid to win another competition (2007).
In 2009, Florentino, in his second stint as president, ushered in an era of neo-galácticos. He signed Kaká, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo in quick succession, and promised a return to European glory. While the latter has not yet materialized, he took a huge stride forward this summer with his newest Galálctico: Italian treble-winning coach “The Special One,” José Mourinho.
Florentino is a showman. No matter what happens this season (things are currently going well), he will certainly try to make at least one enthusiasm-inducing transfer. This list will break down the most likely candidates to become this summer’s newest Galactico.
It’s important to note, though, that it is very possible that Florentino will try to tighten the belt at least a little—this could mean trading or selling some under-performing players. I won’t address which players might be sold, but suffice it to say that there will be some movement out of Madrid.
It’s also important to remember that this team might not need a significant makeover—we will almost certainly not be getting a new coach, and Mourinho has stated that he likes what he has for the most part.
5. Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur
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The young Welsh phenom’s meteoric rise to international stardom has not been missed in the offices overlooking the Castellana.
Gareth Bale's performance against Inter Milan, in particular, stood out to Mourinho, apparently. The People reported that “Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho is prepared to offer Tottenham £13m and midfielder Lassana Diarra in exchange for left-back Gareth Bale.”
Bale has enormous potential, and could easily become one of the best players in the world.
A word of caution, however. While he has absolutely monster potential, Florentino may be reluctant to sign him, given that Madrid already has a wunderkind left-back of their own in Brazilian star Marcelo.
4. Bastian Scweinsteiger, Bayern Munich
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Florentino, and Mourniho, both covet the German star midfielder, and would be willing to pay handsomely for his services. There have been constant rumors—mainly floated out by Marca, the Spanish sports daily—already about possible meetings and negotiations between Schweini’s agent, Florentino and others.
Another cautionary word, however: Los Blancos have a stacked midfield right now, and it seems a bit odd to add another player to the mix. With Mesut Özil and Angel di María already making their mark, it’s hard to imagine where currently injured Kaká will fit in—to say nothing of Schweini.
While I love the German’s work ethic, I think picking up Shcweinsteiger would probably be a mistake for Madrid in the long run.
3. Javier "Chicharito" Hernández
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The Mexican hitman’s stock has been skyrocketing with Real Madrid since the World Cup, as his on-field production has been absolutely superb. He has added a spark to Man U’s offense while Wayne Rooney has been injured (or in bad shape), and he was arguably Mexico’s most dangerous player in South Africa.
Madrid are even thinking of making a £7 million bid in the January transfer market for Chicharito, as their striking options have been limited—Higuaín has been underwhelming compared to last season, and Benzema has yet to materialize into the world-class attacker that Madrid needs.
This might be my favorite move Madrid could make this offseason. The young Mexican brings incredible energy to the pitch, and has an immense amount of talent.
While he might not be the biggest name on the market right now, if he explodes, like many think he will, he would represent an important asset for Real Madrid to grow into the North American market. Big upside here.
2. Wayne Rooney, Manchester United
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Believe it folks. Just because Wayne signed a big contract extension doesn’t mean that he’s not on Man U’s trading block. He still has been under-performing this season, and he seems to have been very hurt by his foray into scandal. A change of scenery could be exactly what his game—and personal life—needs.
Both Florentino and Mourinho have expressed interest in acquiring the still-young Englishman, and I think Man U would let him go—though at a steep price.
My guess would be that if Madrid does end up acquiring Rooney, they would have to give up around £40 million and Karim Benzema or Lass Diarra (or both). Unless his form dips precipitously, or he has another scandal, I think this price might be too much for Florentino when there are other quality strikers on the market.
1. Fernando Llorente, Athletic Club Bilbao
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This one seems like a no-brainer to me. Llorente has expressed his desire to leave Athletic; Madrid has expressed their desire to acquire his services, and he won’t be nearly as expensive as Wayne Rooney.
Plus, he’s Spanish, plays on the national team and could be the face of the franchise in 10 years. He has incredible upside on the pitch and in the boardroom.
Florentino has openly said that he wants to acquire more Spanish players, and Mourinho became enamored with him at the World Cup—no brainer.
Plus, he’s off to a historically fantastic start with Athletic, scoring six goals in eight La Liga matches. And this doesn’t appear to be an anomaly, as he has averaged about 0.48 goals per game over the last two years.