During Real Madrid’s game on Jan. 16 against Almeria, one crucial point was highlighted: Real Madrid sorely lacks a confident striker. As obvious as this reality now is, it is not obvious what the best next step is for the club.
This, however, was not always the case. When the season began, the forward and striker positions were not a source of major concern. The way Jose Mourinho likes to play, he only uses one striker; this is a 4-5-1 (or 4-2-3-1) formation. Gonzalo Higuian was the sole proven striker up top and a favorite of Jose Mourinho. Just in case, Karim Benzema was ready on the bench and could be used when necessary.
Everything went terribly wrong, however, in early December when Higuian injured his back requiring surgery, and he is now out for the rest of the season. Benzema has stepped into Higuians role but has failed to provide for Mourinho, scoring only one goal in La Liga.
Mourinho’s frustrations came to a boil on Sunday’s game against Almeria when he decided to play Cristiano Ronaldo, who is a preferred winger, as the sole striker instead of Benzema. Benzema, although he is a great striker when confident, has lost all of his confidence as of recent and I don’t think he will get that back as long as Mourinho publicly doubts him. The formation in Sunday’s game could have been considered a 4-6 formation. Ronaldo was hesitant and not accustomed to hovering in the box. He consistently dropped back to a midfield position. Simply put, Ronaldo is not the answer to Real Madrid’s striker dilemma.
Real Madrid management finally agree that something should be done about the striker position if they want to have any chance of catching up to League leaders Barcelona. There is a search for a new signing, but who should it be? Here are my top five signings for the January transfer window:
This is definitely an option when looking around Europe for a proven center forward who can leave in the middle of the season. Adebayor is out of favor at Manchester City and is unlikely to break back into the first team, especially now that Dzeko has recently joined the team. Adebayor is not happy on the bench and looking for a way out; however, he is highly valued in the transfer market.
It is unclear whether Real Madrid will be willing to pay a lot of money for a player like Adebayor this transfer window; Florentino Perez has largley zipped up his purse. If there is a signing, I think it will have to be at a price well below Adebayor. Although Adebayor is a talented center forward, he has not had a great season for about two or three years, and he has been out of first team play for many months now. Simply put, he is still an option, but not worth the money.
What is interesting about this prospect is that part of it has already played out. Real Madrid has already offered Manchester City 33 million pounds for Carlos Tevez. Roberto Mancini will be desperate to hold onto his leading goal scorer, as Manchester City are desperate for goals while trying to fight for a Champions League spot or even the title.
It is unlikely that Tevez will end up in Madrid, but it is certainly possible. City may be desperate for cash after the huge signing of Edin Dzeko. And if Dzeko performs, City could cash in on Tevez, although again, I see this as an unlikely and fruitless effort on the behalf of Real Madrid.
Raul is no stranger to Real Madrid. He spent 16 successful seasons in the Real Madrid first team. He left in 2010 and joined Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga. In the first half of this season he has already proven his scoring ability by netting nine goals in 17 apperances.
Although Raul has already left, he could make a huge impact back at Madrid. He has a great goal scoring ability and is most comfortable in the box and at finishing, exactly what Madrid need. If pursued heavily, Mourinho may be able to pry him away from Schalke; however, it is unlikely that he will pursue Raul to great enough lengths. A good option nonetheless.
This is a great option that has already gotten much attention in football media. Real Madrid are interested in Miroslav Klose. I think it is a good and safe option.
Although Miroslav Klose's age and lack of playing time at Bayern are a concern, he still has something to offer. And for Madrid they may need to settle for a consistent scorer like Klose even if he is nearing the end of his career. Klose has scored 14 goals in three World Cups for Germany and four at the most recent tournament in South Africa
Klose is proven and consistent. Although he is not a flashy nor extremely technical striker, he is a gifted finisher. His intelligent positioning and great arial ability have scored him countless goals throughout his career: 58 goals in 102 appearances for Germany. These traits would be especially appreciated at Madrid.
Ruud Van Nistelrooy is undoubtedly one of the most prolific strikers of all time. His ruthless goal scoring appetite and his 'coolness' in front of goal puts him up there with the best. He is the ideal center forward. His positioning is superb and his finishing ability with his head and both feet is both highly technical and effective. His numbers speak for themselves: 95 goals in 150 appearances for Manchester United and 46 goals in 68 appearances for Real Madrid and finally 11 goals in 26 appearances for Hamburg.
Van Nistelrooy left Real Madrid in January 2010, but he is everything Madrid needs to fill the void of Gonzalo Higuian. His style does not require great pace and his goal-scoring instinct does not disappear with a bit of age. Although like Klose and Raul, Van Nistelrooy is nearing his professional retirement he can still score very important goals for Real Madrid. Van Nistelrooy is a proven goal-scorer under pressure and has the experience Madrid needs to enter the squad in the middle of the season.
His club in Germany, Hamburg are desperate to keep the Dutchman, however. He is a much needed asset in a team struggling in the middle of the Bundesliga tables. However, if Mourinho shows he is willing to pursue Van Nistelrooy, the transfer could work out. Ruud has already said to the press that he would love to return to Madrid on loan and he is confident on his ability to score goals.
I think Ruud has at least half a season left in him, given not much else. Here is a video to remind you of what he can do for Real Madrid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sQAWSf4mGc&feature=related