REAL MADRID

Zidane's 23-man squad is closed with Kroos a Casemiro solution

The Madrid manager has at least two players for every positon except that of Casemiro. The most favoured person by coach and club to step into that role is Kroos.

With just a couple of days until the first league game of the season away to Real Sociedad, Zidane has stated that he is happy with his squad and doesn't expect any new players to join before the end of the transfer window on the 31 August.

It has been a "low-cost" summer for Madrid with just Morata, Asensio and Coentrao returning to the club and the big names strongly linked to the club - Pogba, Lewandoski, Alaba, to name but a few - have gone elsewhere or remained with their current employer.

The addition of these three players, however, has given an extra depth to the squad that was missing from the 2015-16 campaign, albeit a season that culminated in lifting the Champions League trophy in Milan. Zidane now has at least two players for every position - clearly some players are not limited to just one area - with the exception, when rigidly defining the role, being that of Casemiro.

The Brazilian is the only true defensive midfielder hence why Los Blancos flirted with both Kanté (who left English champions Leicester for the new Chelsea project) and Newcastle's Sissoko who, on the back of a strong performance for France in Euro 2016, attracted attention from several big clubs but is yet to move from the second tier under Rafa Benitez.

Squad solutions decided

Kroos control: holding midfield cover.

If we take it that no other signings are to arrive at the Bernabeú in the final two weeks of the window, the solution to cover for Casemiro is fairly clear. Zidane has a clear idea that Toni Kross could fulfil the role, and the German did so under Ancelotti in his first season in the Spanish capital.

There's also a Plan B if Casemiro is missing - Marcos Llorente. The player has been loaned out to Alavés but has a clause built in that allows Madrid to recall him in the January window if required. Zidane will be keeping a close eye on his development as he will with young Mariano who is expected to be sent out to Leganés for more game time but who wil have a similar return clause included.

Coentrao delay

Although the Portuguese full back, Fábio Coentrão, was brought back to provide appropriate cover to Marcelo, he is likely to be out injured until October. If the speedy Brazilian has any problems, Nacho will step across to fill the hole temporarily.