Solari: "If Pogba comes, a big name will have to sit on the bench"
The Argentine spoke to ESPN after the 7-3 win for Atlético Madrid over Real Madrid and he spoke about Bale, Pogba, Benzema, Hazard and Vinicius.
Santiago Solari was back on our screens again as he watched Atlético Madrid's mauling of Real Madrid at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The Argentine commentated on the game for ESPN and gave his opinions on the future of Bale, the Pogba situation, Hazard, Benzema and Vinicius in an interview once the game finished.
The future of Gareth Bale
During his first public appearance since his sacking at Real Madrid, four and a half months after the fact, he spoke about Bale, who looked like he would be off to China by now before that deal was scuppered at the last minute. Solari said he only has "good things to say about Bale and no matter what happens, he will make up an important part of the history of this club." Bale suffered his first injuries of the year under Solari and missed out on the bulk of the former manager's last games in charge but he says that if Bale stays, "the club will be able to count on a good player."
Vinicius and his new role
Part of the reason for Solari's fall was his reliance on young players he had at Real Madrid Castilla for a time including Vinicius. "I have a lot of affection for Vinici, he arrived a year about to play at Castilla and he grew a lot mentally and tactically. He managed the pressure very well at Real Madrid and had some fantastic performances."
"Madrid signed Hazard, who played in his position. He will have to fight for his minutes and adapt to the right, which his not his natural position," he continued. The Belgian is currently the occupant of that left wing and the injury to Asensio could mean an opening for Vinicius on the right and at the least, a fight for minutes between Rodrygo, Kubo and the Brazilian.
Pressure on Hazard and Benzema to score goals
"Hazard is one of those player that can make the team play around him," says Solari. "The problem is to come and fill the hole left by Cristiano Ronaldo a year ago. He came to play in that position, on the left and Madrid need goals to fight for the treble, and for that his success will be measured in goals."
He said something similar about Benzema. "He is the best number 9 in the world whe we talk about dropping and receiving the ball to link with his teammates," he said. "However, it's an issue about goals when you play close to the area. At the end of the season, his success will be measured in goals, like I said about Hazard, and last year he achieved that." Last season, Benzema enjoyed his second best season in terms of goals with 30 and in the absence of Ronaldo, Benzema and Hazard's ability to score will be watched very closely.
Pogba and Madrid's midfield
The last thing discussed by the former Real Madrid manager is one of the most on-topic at the moment along with Bale's future. Solari was asked about Modric and Kroos' poor form last season and said: "when they are fit, they are the best (including Casemiro), although the through is the aren't getting any younger. It's normal that the club are thinking about other players."
Pogba is the name at the top of the list when it comes to Madrid reinforcing their midfield. "As a manager, I understand that it is all speculation. I don't know who is the best option for Real Madrid at this moment," he said.
"Yes, it's true that if Pogba or another player of his quality comes to Madrid, it would be real competition in the middle of the field and one of the biggest names would have to sit on the bench," he continued.