Who can fill Ronaldo's massive boots at the Santiago Bernabeu? Here are the options... Image: AFP
Real Madrid is preparing for life without Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portuguese superstar left the Santiago Bernabeu for Juventus in a stunning 100 million euro transfer. Replacing the club's all-time record goalscorer and arguably the best player in the world will without a doubt be a Herculean challenge, but Real president Florentino Perez has promised to bring in some 'incredible players' in the transfer window to replace the talismanic CR7.
Perez, speaking to the media during the unveiling of former Real Sociedad right-back Alvaro Odriozola as a Real Madrid player, said, "We are aware of the expectations this team faces every season. We're Real Madrid and we always want more. This is a winning team with amazing players. We have an amazing squad that will be reinforced with new, incredible players."
Apart from Odriozola, Real Madrid have also reportedly completed deals for Ukrainian goalkeeper Andriy Lunin from Zorya Luhansk and 18-year-old Brazilian wonderkid Vinicius Junior from Flamengo. But the 13-time UEFA Champions League winners are expected to, and will have to, spend big this transfer window to make up for Ronaldo's departure.
Madrid already have Gareth Bale in their books who, when fit, has the ability to establish himself as the team's new focal point but it remains to be seen if new coach Julen Lopetegui decides to put his faith in the Welshman, whose time at Real has been constantly disrupted by injuries and inconsistency.
Even if Bale gets to play a bigger role in the first team, Real's and Perez's inclination towards superstar 'Galactico' signings is well-established and fans can expect one or even two big arrivals this summer.
Here are a few of the big names linked with a move to Madrid in this transfer window.
1. Eden Hazard
Hazard has hinted he will leave Chelsea this year Image: AFP
The Chelsea attacker has been linked with a move to Real Madrid for several seasons now and looks like it's time. The Belgian, in a recent interview, said, "After six wonderful years at Chelsea it might be time to discover something different. You know my preferred destination." New Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri will certainly be desperate to keep the star at Stamford Bridge, but Hazard seems to have his eyes set on a move to Madrid.
Neymar may be looking for a way back to Spain Image: AFP
Neymar left Real Madrid's arch-rivals Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in a world record deal last season. But it is claimed the Brazilian is unhappy in Paris and is looking for a move back to Spain. We can safely rule out a return to Catalonia considering Neymar moved from Barca in order to step out of the immense shadow cast by Lionel Messi. With Ronaldo gone, Neymar can definitely be the main man at the Bernabeu but Real Madrid would definitely need to break the 222 million euro transfer record PSG paid for Neymar last year to land their man.
3. Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappe was France's standout player in their FIFA World Cup 2018-winning campaign Image: AFP
The 19-year-old Frenchman is touted as the next-big-thing in world football, and with good reason. The speedster had a phenomenal breakthrough 2016-17 season for Monaco. A big loan move to PSG followed and the youngster impressed again, refusing to be overshadowed by big names such as Neymar and Edison Cavani. He was also a standout player for France in their FIFA World Cup 2018-winning campaign and bagged the Best Young Player award in the tournament. PSG are expected to make Mbappe's loan move permanent for a fee of 180 million euros this year, but it may not be enough to stop Real Madrid from gunning for the youngster. With PSG needing to sell assets to abide by Financial Fair Play (FFP), the Ligue 1 champions may have to make a choice between Neymar and Mbappe if other deals don't work through.
Each of the above deals will potentially need Real Madrid to shatter the current transfer record but you will be wise not to bet against Perez when it comes to getting the player he wants.