Real Madrid

Zidane's future Real Madrid: Odegaard, Asensio, Mariano

Borja Mayoral

While Lewandowski continues to be the headline maker for that Real Madrid no.9 jersey, Zidane feels like Karim Benzema needs some back-up after a number of absences due to muscular problems last season, Borja Mayoral is the cat already in the bag for los blancos. The under-21 international will not be at Rio and has all summer to get fighting fit, he knows the first-team routine and has had a remarkable season with Castilla, scoring 15 goals. Zidane practically considers him part of the squad, Borja has renewed until 2021, but if Lewandowski does come, how much will he play? Politically Mayoral was important for Zidane and Florentino Perez at a low point in the season, and may be kept around for those same reasons. Games played in 2015/16: 35 Minutes played: 2,346



Mariano Díaz

A barrel-chested battleship of a player who is Mayoral's biggest challenger to that spot as relief for the main striker. He's yet to make his first-team debut, but the Dominican destroyer exceeded all expectations finishing not only as Castilla top scorer but as pichichi on the entire Segunda B with 25 goals, statistically he scores every 68 minutes. At 22 and in beastly physically shape, it's his time to make that step up to the Primera where he'll almost certainly play if not at Madrid then on a loan deal or a sell-off with a buy-back clause. Zidane gave the green light for his renovation until 2021, and the manager will have to make a decision over the summer who has the talent but is there room for him in a star-studded, heavily-populated forward squad. Games played 2015/16: 29 Minutes played: 1,703



Martin Odegaard

The Norwegian princeling has grown into the Segunda B, blessed with balance and grace that promises much, Odegaard has begun to dominate matches more, but his goal return is still shy; two in a season and a half. He is still 17, but carries the hope of a nation on his shoulders who watch his every move, patience is required. Norway didn't make the Euros, but Hogmo wants Odegaard ready for Russia World Cup qualifying, and if Castilla don't go up to Segunda then his father will pressure for a loan move at very least. Benitez wasn't convinced by Odegaard and he'll have to do more to convince Zidane to go out on a limb for him. Matches played 2015/16: 34 Minutes played: 2,489



Marco Asensio

A similar player to Odegaard in the position he occupies and what he brings to the team, he has the jump on the Norwegian promise after a successful season in Catalonia with Espanyol. He's already said his heart is with Real Madrid: "I used to watch Zidane as a kid and I want to learn from him", he said on Thursday, but Zidane can only accomodate so many strikers in the end. The Real camp is not too concerned however, as Asensio is tied to the club for another four seasons and clubs are bashing down the blanco doors in the clamour for his temporary services. He has a pressure-free season ahead of him impressing Zidane from a-near or afar. Games played in 2015/16: 34 Minutes played: 2,833



Diego Llorente

Llorente has come out of la fabrica from the same mold as Nacho, in Castilla he played centre-back or on either side as wing-back, giving his all in every game. Llorente spent the year at Rayo where he had plenty of defending to do, but was also used further up the field by Paco Jemez, becoming indispensable in the first XI. He scored twice and his season was recognized by Del Bosque who called him up to the list of young players that trained with the international squad before Euro 2016. He faces serious competition with Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Varane and Nacho all ahead in the pecking order. If Zizou opens the doors he'll not want for offers, Villarreal are offering Champions League gametime and Espanyol another chance to get a further La Liga season under his belt. Games played in 2015/16: 36 Minutes played: 3,155

Photo: David Ramos Getty Images


Jesus Vallejo

Vallejo has a bright future ahead of him and is top of the pile on Zizou's in-tray. He was bought by Real Madrid last summer but loaned back to his Zaragoza where he's captain at 19. A natural-born leader who's had a few hamstring problems for which he's received treatment in Madrid, and have caused him to miss much of the season. As Zidane doesn't consider the defence a problem at this moment, Vallejo may be allowed to stay at Zaragoza for another campaign to regain fitness and gain more experience. Games played in 2015/16: 20 Minutes played: 1,684




His ascendance to the top team looks the most difficult, he plays a very similar part to Jese and Lucas Vazquez, only the exit of the canario would open up a spot for the young player. His year at Espanyol hasn't been plain sailing, but having tasted Primera Liga life, dropping back to segunda with Castilla would feel like a step in the wrong direction. The club must come to a conclusion soon, as he only has one year left on his contract.



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