Competition
  • Europa League

Lopetegui, Rodrigo, Madrid and Valencia

As yet another day goes by without any moves made by Real Madrid in the transfer market, Valencia’s concern will be growing over whether Florentino decides to swoop late for Rodrigo. Here we have a good goalscorer who has developed into a fine player after an explosive start to his career which then simmered rather than boiled – he was rejuvenated by Marcelino at Valencia and called up for Spain by Lopetegui. Madrid are short in attack, with Benzema and Borja Mayoral their main options. Moreover, the Frenchman, the apple of Florentino’s eye since he arrived in 2009, has been over-protected, seeing off other pretenders which include Higuaín, Chicharito, Morata and Mariano.

Filling Cristiano's boots

The chasm left by Cristiano’s departure has become even more pronounced. Madrid’s first team doesn’t lack quality, and even boasts some fine attacking talent in Bale, Benzema and Asensio, but it does lack depth. Bale possesses a bigger goalscoring threat than the Frenchman, but still leaves that constant lingering doubt over his fitness and potential for injuries, while Asensio is yet to truly hit his stride. The Spaniard shows promise and flashes of brilliance which fade with inconsistency. Behind them come Lucas Vázquez, Borja Mayoral and Vinicius - I’m not including Raúl de Tomás, who awaits a loan deal. Considering the names mentioned above something’s missing; perhaps not a regular starter in the first eleven but a second option of real quality.

Buy-out

Lopetegui’s first choice to address this dilemma is Rodrigo. The one potential snag, however, is that the striker has a 120-million-euro buy-out clause, and Valencia are unlikely to let Madrid take the player off their hands for any less – the fans would not accept it. Yet for Madrid and Florentino, paying such an amount simply as a back-up for Benzema would be excessive and indulgent, and even more so after they let Cristiano go for 100 million euros. In fact, it would be verging on the ridiculous. Nevertheless, creeping into this situation is the mounting unrest of the fans and the reality that on the opening day of the season Madrid got into the box fewer times than any other side. Benzema had one shot on goal, which went wide.