AS looks at five strikers who could potentially come in as temporary solutions to Real Madrid's issues in front of goal.
The absence of Cristiano Ronaldo has yet to be filled at Real Madrid and the urgency to find a striker has been exacerbated by the recent injuries up front to Karim Benzema and Mariano. Here, AS takes a look at five emergency strikers that Madrid could potentially sign before January to solve the problems in front of goal.
Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)
Despite being the first choice ‘9’ for France, Giroud has not won the confidence of new Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri, and has found himself left out of the starting eleven on several occasions this season. With the possible arrival of Higuaín this January, the Frenchman would fall even further down the pecking order, which may prompt his search for a way out of Stamford Bridge.
On top of that, the 32-year-old has a contract until June, 2019. The London club has a strict policy of not offering players over 30 more than a one-year deal, which is the why Cesc Fabregas recently left for Monaco, and could be another reason why Giroud could look to leave.
Radamel Falcao (Monaco)
Falcao has long been a target of Real Madrid and could perfectly fit their current needs. A '9' with the ability to push wide, the Colombia is well capable of scoring from distance, and demonstrates lethal skill in the penalty area. This season, despite suffering some minor injuries and being clearly dragged down by Monaco’s poor performance (they currently lie 19th in Ligue 1), Falcao has managed to score seven goals in 16 league games; and has been reborn after an injury that threatened to end his career.
In December, he publically expressed his dissatisfaction with Monaco’s direction, and considering the club’s precarious position, he may look to leave. With Monaco having plenty of options in Falcao’s position (including promising Italian youngster Pietro Pellegri, for whom they paid 21 million euros in the summer, and 19-year-old Moussa Sylla, an academy player much liked by coach Thierry Henry), they may be willing to let him go.
Fedor Smolov (Lokomotiv Mosco)
The Russian striker is one of the most complete players on the list and was the top scorer in the Russian Premier League in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons.
Things have not gone well for him at Lokomotiv Moscow, where he signed from Krasnodar in the summer for 9 million euros, and the club and its fans may not look badly on his exit. Lokomotiv are out of the Champions League, and, sitting in fifth place in the Russian Premier League, are unlikely to qualify this year, which means they will miss out on the vital revenues that Europe’s top competition brings.
Lokomotiv does not have a budget to match the other big clubs in the country. That, coupled with the fact that the economy of Russian football is being damaged by international sanctions on the country, the fall of the ruble and the price of oil, could provoke the club to sell off big players. In fact, speculation has been growing that one of their best players, Manuel Fernandes, could be on the way out.
Smolov is a very versatile attacker who would fit perfectly into Solari’s philosophy of direct play. A few months at Real Madrid could help him recover his status as a starter in the Russian national team, which has been overtaken by Artem Dzyuba since the World Cup.
Bas Dost (Sporting Lisbon)
The Dutch striker has an amazing capacity to score goals. In 2017, he fought Leo Messi for the Uefa Golden Boot, and in the end, lost out to the Argentinean by a margin of just three goals (37-34).
Dost scored 27 goals in the Portuguese league and was one of Sporting’s best players throughout the entire campaign last season. After he and other players were attacked by a group of radical fans in May, his departure in the summer seemed almost certain but eventually, he decided to stay. This year, he has managed to score 10 goals in 11 games in Portugal’s Primeira Liga.
A move to Real Madrid could be an incentive for Koeman to call him back up to the Dutch national team, from which he has been absent since March, 2018.
Emiliano Sala (Nantes)
Sala is not a very glamorous striker. He is not particularly technical, but is a very effective striker who works and fights hard in the penalty area.
The Argentine is dominant in the air and needs fewer attempts to score than the most prolific goal scorers in Europe’s big leagues. At 66.67 percent, he has a better shot-to-goal ratio than Messi (64.29 percent), Harry Kane (52.94 percent), Cristiano Ronaldo (50 percent) and Mbappé (50 percent). At Nantes, he has scored 13 goals in 20 games so far this season.
Sala is believed to be at the exit door at Nantes, with Premier League side Cardiff reportedly interested in signing him. But if Real Madrid came knocking, the Bernabéu could be a more favoured option for the 28-year-old. He has yet to debut for Argentina and could view a move to Real Madrid as a springboard to break into the national side.