There shouldn’t have been much surprise when Real Madrid attempted to hijack Bayern Munich’s move for Robert Lewandowski back in December of last year. The Spanish side would have had the Polish international’s four-goal master class against them in the Champions League still fresh in the memory, topped by the fact that Lewandowski has made himself known as one of Europe’s premier forwards under Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund.
Real Madrid’s problem is that Florentino Perez treats the club like a vanity project. Football comes second – unless, of course, we’re talking about the 10th European Cup, which has managed to sidestep Real’s attempts since 2002. The club always need to have the best, even if it means sacrificing the talents of those coming through the academy. In a break from the norm, the start of last season brought much more joy to the supporters, with the club recruiting young Spanish players and promoting from within.
But naturally the major story from last summer was the acquisition of Gareth Bale, a ‘Galacitico’ in status, price and ability. That need to cannon ball into the pool of Europe’s superstar names isn’t set to end. Real Madrid under Perez don’t do things quietly.
And they may land another superstar this summer if Perez has his way. Luis Suarez was inconsolable following Liverpool’s 3-3 draw away to Crystal Palace in the penultimate game of the Premier League season. Were there tears of an impending breakup mixed in with the soon-to-be-confirmed failure to land the league title?
What is certain even at this stage is that we still don’t have a clear understanding of where Real Madrid and Perez will move this summer. They may need defensive additions if there are any departures, as well as another midfielder depending on Sami Khedira’s future and Asier Illarramendi’s development. But that’s small time and isn’t worthy of making the headlines. Perez wants a star forward who will score, delight and sell. Suarez maybe, though it could also be Radamel Falcao or Sergio Aguero.
Under Carlo Ancelotti this season, Real’s sole senior forward Karim Benzema has had one of his better campaigns in the Spanish capital. The other standout year was the season in which the team won the league title with Jose Mourinho. Interchanging with Gonzalo Higuain, who scored 22, Benzema grabbed 21 goals in the league alone. This season, he has been up from his return of last season, 11, by netting 17 times in league play. Zinedine Zidane has been a big help, but it’s also a plus when the manager doesn’t hold a fluctuating feeling of resentment towards you (where have we had that one before?).
But this season has also seen the rise of Jese Rodriguez, who has not only usurped Alvaro Morata from his place as first-choice backup, but who has also grabbed a hatful of hugely important goals throughout the year. Jese’s ACL injury early on against Schalke was a bitter pill to take after such progress.
Both Morata and Benzema’s future is unclear. The former has been heavily linked with a move away, while the latter’s contract expires next summer. If both were to leave at some stage over the next few months, then yes, Real will need to move with purpose to land another centre-forward. However, if they were to stay on, the club would have little need for Suarez. Cristiano Ronaldo’s form, Bale’s improvement and the host of scorers throughout the rest of the squad negate the need for another superstar forward, especially one that would cost upward of €70 million.
You wonder, though, whether Perez may cash in on Morata and Benzema to ensure this team doesn’t lose any of its shine. The league is gone for Real and it is possible they’ll lose to Atletico in the Champions League; after eluding the club for so long, maybe the European Cup isn’t done frustrating Los Blancos. If that were the case, what better way to move on than with some retail therapy?
Perez’s constant neglect for the less glamorous positions on the pitch and cohesion throughout have been to the detriment of the team’s European Cup hopes in the past. The club president will unlikely be asking the questions of whether the team needs Suarez over what they currently have in Benzema, whether Ronaldo wants Suarez in the squad – because it will come up eventually – and whether €70 million can be better invested elsewhere; how about on new contracts for the Spanish youngsters or addressing the problems the team face when Xabi Alonso is absent?
Real may find themselves in a position where they’ll need another centre-forward this summer. But as things stand, that ‘need’ is an unnecessary ‘want.’