Real Madrid are on the verge of playing another UEFA Champions League final in what has been another otherwise disappointing season for Los Blancos. But even though the season has not ended yet, it’s never too early to start planning the upcoming campaign. It is one where Real Madrid will try to dethrone Barcelona at the domestic level.
One would think that Madrid need to bolster their attacking line, but that would be a huge mistake. As things stand right now, Los Blancos have a lot of quality on the attacking end, and their best course of action would be to bolster their defensive line. They have a stellar starting unit, but they could improve their depth with a few backups.
Without further ado, here are three defenders that Real Madrid should sign during the upcoming transfer window.
Arguably the biggest need for Real Madrid during the upcoming transfer window is to find a reliable centre-back that can operate as adequate cover for Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane. Even though Nacho and Jesus Vallejo are alternatives on the first-team squad, the team could do better. The former could be better suited to play as a jack-of-all-trades defender, while the latter proved this year that he is simply not good enough to play for Real Madrid. And while Nacho is a decent back-up alternative, he is not on the same level as either Ramos or Varane. The team needs someone who can produce and fill the gap at a similar level.
Enter Kostas Manolas. The Greek international is one of the best second-tier (that is, not world-class quality but still very good) central defenders in Europe. However, this year he took his game to a whole new level. Aside from settling as a regular starter for an AS Roma that reached the UEFA Champions League semifinals, Manolas also became a regular aerial threat on the attack. The best proof of that is the fact that he scored the goal that eliminated FC Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinals with a stellar header.
Roma might not want to sell the defender, but recent reports have indicated that they might not have a choice but to do so. In order to avoid complications with the FIFA Financial Fair Play, Roma need to part ways with several high-profile players. And selling Manolas would allow them to keep other stars such as Allison, Edin Dzeko, and Radja Nainggolan. And if we add the fact that Real Madrid are keen on Manolas, then this is a deal that could easily happen in the upcoming transfer window. He would be expensive, but worth the price.
Perhaps the name of Ricardo Pereira is not a household one among casual football fans. And honestly, I couldn’t blame you if you don’t know who he is. The FC Porto right-back began to gain notoriety when he spent two seasons on loan at OGC Nice back in the 2015-16 campaign. He thrived for the Ligue 1 side in his second year on French soil, and ahead of this season he returned to Porto, his parent club that called him back since they needed an upgrade for the right-back position. And with the season ending, there is no question Pereira resulted in an upgrade. The 25-year-old fullback finished with 39 appearances across all competitions, and registered two goals and six assists.
One would say that signing Pereira is not really a need considering the presence of Dani Carvajal, who’s still only 26 years old. But what happens if Carvajal is not available? Right now he is doubtful ahead of the UEFA Champions League final at the end of the month, and the team does not have a reliable replacement for him. Nacho fits better as a centre-back, and Achraf Hakimi might be good, but the downgrade in terms of quality compared to Carvajal is steep. Therefore, adding Pereira would bolster the team’s depth considerably.
As if that wasn’t enough, Pereira is a versatile full-back. He can play on both flanks with equal ease, and has also spent time as a winger when playing for Nice. That’s an interesting plus, and he shouldn’t be very expensive.
We all know Marcelo is not going away any time soon, as the Brazilian is in the peak of his form and there is simply no one who could even compete with him for the starting left-back role. However, Marcelo is not going to last forever, and at some point Madrid need to find a proper replacement. The idea would be to find a younger, similar player… and that player exists. We are talking about none other than Augsburg’s Philipp Max, who has been tearing it up in the Bundesliga during the current season.
The 24-year-old left-back has registered 12 assists (and two goals) in 33 Bundesliga appearances for Augsburg, all of them as a starter. And while the likes of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are behind him, Real Madrid should join the race too. If they want to replace Marcelo with someone remotely similar to him, then Max seems like the best choice available. Aside from being tested in one of the top European leagues, he is also a constant threat going forward and his touch in the final touch does not resemble the one of a defender. And considering he is five years younger, he fits the ball to become a timely replacement once Marcelo leaves the side.
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