All's well that ends well. Mariano's return to Madrid was made official yesterday, a good signing in my view because it satisifies Lopetegui's search for a striker. The lad also wanted to leave Lyon after a successful spell and was seeking a return to LaLiga. Lopetegui's insistence on filling the position was met by Florentino for next to nothing, and without jeopardising a safe place in the starting eleven for Benzema, for whom competition has been swatted aside since the days of Higuaín. In the end Sevilla have been snubbed, and their intentions of signing Marciano for 30 million euros saw him return to Madrid for 22. Yet the complaints from the Sevilla president have been so muted that it's not hard to see Borja Mayoral ending up there.
Keen to impress and Mbappé comparisons
And so Mariano makes his way back to Madrid, where he came up through the ranks to the first team, and where he was a season-long back-up for Morata. Subsequently, his minutes on the pitch were limited, but in the time he was afforded he showed energy, enthusiasm and sharpness in front of goal. Perhaps he tried a little too hard in his efforts to succeed, almost giving him the air of a caged animal as he tried to impress Zidane in the short bursts he was on the pitch. At Lyon he scored 18 goals and managed five assists in Ligue 1 - during the same campaign Mbappé's return was 13 goals and seven assists, a statistic which should not be ignored.
A move that makes sense
I'm not saying that Mariano is up there with Mbappé, world football's next star, but he's certainly 'someone'. Of course, in the wake of Cristiano's departure the talk was of high-grade replacements in Neymar and Mbappé, before moving down to Lewandowski, Cavani, Kane, Rodrigo... In the same company as those players Mariano pales in comparison, and Aulas even claimed that Florentino wasn't interested. However, price and potential make it a reasonable acquisition that will bolster the squad and stop Benzema from settling into his comfort zone, which the club have indulged since he joined. Above all, Mariano's arrival gives the impression that Lopetegui is earning respect.