Real Madrid made the right call in letting Ramos, Varane and Odegaard leave
Time has proved Real Madrid right in letting Varane, Ramos and Odegaard leave the club. None of them have been performing at their new clubs.
Time has proved that Real Madrid were right to let three senior first team players leave the club last summer - Martin Ødegaard, Raphaël Varane and Sergio Ramos. The sales of the first two brought in 75 million euros (35M for the Norwegian, who joined Arsenal and 40M which Manchester United paid for the French centre-back - plus add-ons in both transfers). And on top of that, Madrid sliced a significant amount off their wages bill - around 44 million euros before tax with all three transfer. Almost half a season on, it is looking like Madrid made the right call.
Economically, it was a profitable move for Madrid - and on the sporting side too, especially for the impact on the team's back four. In one swoop, the club made the transition to replace their old, regular central defensive pair with two players who will serve the club for the next few seasons - Militão and Alaba. But as it has turned out, all three of the players who left over the summer have struggled at their respective clubs. We look at each case.
Sergio Ramos (PSG)
The ex-Madrid captain still has yet to make his debut for PSG - he has not appeared in an official game or even a friendly. But according to Le Parisien, the 36-year-old is starting to see light at the end of the tunnel as regards his injury problems. He returned to training with the squad last week and so far, hasn't suffered any new problems. The issue he had with his calf muscle is evolving well and the objective, say Le Parisien, is that he will be ready for action with the first team at the end of November. He could make his debut in the league meeting with Lens on 4 December.
Ramos' problem is that his last knee operation, which made him miss the final six weeks of last season, weakened muscle tone due to the change in dynamics of his leg movements. Le Parisien reported that PSG were even considering the possibility of rescinding his contract, a measure which was later denied by club officials.
Varane (Manchester United)
Madrid's other first choice centre-back during the past few seasons is not enjoying the best of luck at Manchester United. Like Ramos, Varane has also been laid low by injuries. He has spent a total of 45 days in the sick bay at his new club, which meant he has missed eight games (he's played nine). Varane returned to the starting XI for the league game against Tottenham on 30 October after recovering from an adductor tear. Three days later, he had to be substituted as a precaution in the Champions League meeting with Atalanta.
On the sporting side it hasn't been going too well for Varane either and he has been on the receiving end of criticism. United are sixth in the Premier League table, nine points behind the leaders. In the Champions League, Cristiano has saved the team on a couple of occasions, but the team still isn't through to the next round in a group which they were favourites to win. Group F will be decided in the final game. One of their main problems is the defence - they have conceded 25 goals in 16 games across all competitions.
Ødegaard's case is a little more complicated. In the back offices of the Bernabéu, initially resisted taking the decision to allow a talented player who is only 22 leave. He blossomed out on loan at Real Sociedad before spending the second half of last season loaned out at Arsenal. That persuaded the Gunners to pay 35 million euros for him in August.
But it's turning out to be a testing season for the Norwegian who has received criticism. Emile Smith Rowe is keeping him out o the starting XI and now the club is thinking about signing a forward in the winter transfer window. Manchester City's Raheem Sterling is the big favourite although he would cost somewhere around the 90 million euro mark.
Ødegaard's major problem is that he needs to be part of a system which is clearly defined for his own characteristics; in other words, he is a classic No.10 who is most comfortable when given freedom to roam behind the strikers without having to drop back to defend. He has struggled when trying to fit into a 4-3-3 system, and also in Mikel Arteta's favoured 4-4-2 system with Aubameyang and Lazacette up front and a midfield pivot pairing.