Following the news that Real Madrid will be banned from registering players for the next two transfer windows, Omnisport examines five possible consequences of the Santiago Bernabeu giants breaching FIFA transfer regulations.
Ronaldo: The Real romance continues
Cristiano Ronaldo’s future has been a source of constant speculation throughout this season. The three-time Ballon d’Or winner, unseated as the holder of football’s premier individual honour by Barcelona rival Lionel Messi this week, often cut a disgruntled figure on the field during Rafael Benitez’s ill-fated tenure as Madrid boss. Ronaldo was reported to be unhappy with the methods of the now sacked head coach.
A return of 14 goals from 19 Liga matches would be a handsome return for most forwards, but Ronaldo has long been much more than this. A haul bolstered by hitting five in the 6-0 September rout of Espanyol falls short of the prolific brilliance that established him as Madrid’s all-time leading goalscorer.
Aged 30, the former Manchester United favourite probably has one more major move to make in his celebrated career. During Real’s Champions League matches against Paris Saint-Germain, Ronaldo did little to dissuade chatter that the French capital could be his next destination. However, with Madrid now prevented from signing the elite talents they would need to fill the considerable void Ronaldo would leave, it is impossible to countenance the prospect of the club selling their talisman.
Job security for Zidane
Upon being anointed as Benitez’s successor, Real Madrid icon Zidane reportedly penned a contract to serve as coach until the end of the 2017-18 season. Nevertheless, as many of the former France captain’s predecessors would gladly tell him, such agreements are scarcely worth the paper they are written on under demanding Bernabeu president Florentino Perez.
Failure at Madrid, or even qualified success, tends to be met with the sack. Perez can make the argument that his lavish transfer policy provides his coaches with all the tools required to produce nothing short of excellence. But the FIFA sanctions rob him of this skewed logic.
The lack of Real’s substantial transfer artillery makes the job less attractive to football’s managerial heavyweights and perhaps grants Zidane – familiar with the next generation Madrid might now call upon from his tenure as Castilla coach – the kind of time to develop that the Bernabeu cauldron scarcely allows. Virtues rarely seen at Real, Zidane and his squad could benefit from an enforced period of stability and continuity.
Galacticos policy on hold
So often the club to set the agenda during European football’s annual close-season transfer saga, it will be surreal to have Real Madrid lurking in the shadows and not part of the conversation as the cash is splashed next term.
From the era of Luis Figo and Zidane himself arriving at the Bernabeu to great fanfare after the turn of the century, to Cristiano Ronaldo and World Cup heroics paving Mesut Ozil and James Rodriguez’s paths to the Bernabeu, Perez has annually made his club the envy of the footballing world.
Juventus’ Paul Pogba and Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are primed to become the must-have stars of 2016 and, unless a lengthy appeals process can delay sanctions as Barcelona did in 2014, Perez is likely to look on ruefully – uninvited for the Galacticos bonanza he spawned.
Isco, Kroos, Bale and Real youngsters well-placed
With the entrance bolted shut by FIFA, life looks a whole lot better for those already inside the building at Real Madrid. Only this week, Toni Kroos was heavily touted for a move to the Premier League, while Zidane’s appointment marks the start of a bridge-building exercise with Isco, who endured a miserable time under Benitez. Suddenly, it is hard to imagine Real selling the richly gifted Germany and Spain internationals.
Gareth Bale has endured a mixed relationship with Madrid’s notoriously hard-to-please fanbase but last weekend’s hat-trick in the 5-0 win over Deportivo la Coruna marked the latest step in the former Tottenham winger proving the doubters wrong. His world-record transfer fee is set to be unthreatened for the foreseeable future, giving Bale time to further grow into the role of Bernabeu superstar.
Teenage sensation Martin Odegaard and 18-year-old forward Borja Mayoral may also face less resistance in their bids to star alongside the likes of Bale, Kroos and Isco on the biggest stage.
January transfer manoeuvres
During the two-and-a-half weeks they have left in January, the Real Madrid transfer machine is likely to go into overdrive. But where to strike a balance between available quick fixes and prime targets who can excel and enhance Real for the duration of their sanctions?
Germany striker Mario Gomez was linked to Madrid earlier this month and could be easily plucked from loan club Besiktas, although there is a more intriguing option when it comes to experienced forwards. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is mulling his next move, with the 34-year-old out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain this summer. The enigmatic Sweden star might appreciate adding another of Europe’s great clubs to his career resume, while relishing having the final word on a troubled 2009-10 season at Barcelona.
An August move for Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea collapsed at the 11th hour and Real could now be forced to revisit the deal sooner than anticipated, while Eden Hazard’s struggles at Chelsea this term are unlikely to have escaped Perez’s attention.