If Real Madrid do finally move for a striker to help make up the 50-goals-a-season shortfall caused by Cristiano Ronaldo's departure, they'll find the top options out there as good as impossible to prise away from their current clubs - leaving them with no choice but to look at alternatives a class below the likes of Kylian Mbappé, Robert Lewandowski, Edinson Cavani and Harry Kane...
And three names particularly stand out among the realistic targets on the market: Timo Werner, Rodrigo Moreno and Mauro Icardi. All three have been linked with the European champions in recent times and would supply at least a healthy chunk of the goals that Cristiano has taken with him to Juventus.
As things stand, Real's forward line is composed of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio, who last season scored 44 times between them - exactly as many as Cristiano managed on his own. In reserve, meanwhile, Julen Lopetegui's options are Borja Mayoral, Raúl de Tomás, Vinicius, Lucas Vázquez... Players who are either not the focal point of the attack, or are not yet tried and tested at the elite level. A striker with experience would add depth to forward options which, at the moment, look incomplete.
New signings needed at Real Madrid, say the fanshttps://t.co/d1BGFjKRh7— AS English (@English_AS) 17 August 2018
Werner: One for the future - but also the present
Werner, 22, is a player whose goal record, allied with the fact that he has already nailed down Germany's number-nine shirt (he was ever present at the World Cup), means Real Madrid would be signing a striker who is a hot prospect with a bright future, but is also an established operator in the here and now. Los Blancos have had him on their radar since last summer, even sending scouts to a Germany clash with Norway to run the rule over him. He's at RB Leipzig, so he'd be affordable, and, having netted 42 over the past two seasons, he guarantees goals. The only black mark on his candidacy is that he is yet to fully prove himself at the very highest level, so he would represent a slight risk.
Rodrigo: Lopetegui an admirer, available for 80m
A Real Madrid youth product who has accrued plenty of experience at Benfica and Valencia, Rodrigo would be a perfect fit for the style of play favoured by Lopetegui, who took him to the World Cup and drew excellent performances from him in a Spain shirt. 2017/18 saw the foward explode into life under Marcelino García Toral at Valencia, scoring 19 goals in 44 games. Given that his previous three campaigns yielded a combined total of 18, however, there are question marks over his ability to maintain that strike rate. Not an out-and-out number nine, he offers the kind of movement and link-up play that bears close comparison with Benzema. His release clause is 120 million euros, but with four strikers now in their squad, Valencia would let him leave for 80 million.
Icardi: A prolific goalscorer, but time is of the essence
Of the three options, Icardi is the most proven in goalscoring terms, having notched up 98 in the last four seasons at Inter Milan. He has repeatedly been tipped for a switch to Real - and city rivals Atlético - but such links have so far come to nought. Despite being called up for fixtures prior to the tournament, he was left out of the Argentina squad for Russia 2018 due to his poor relationship with other members of the group. A fox in the box with fine technique, he is the ideal man to find the breakthrough against the packed defences Real tend to come up against. However, the Serie A transfer window closes today at 20:00 CEST, and Inter would be unlikely to sell him after the deadline as they would be unable to replace him.