When you think of Real Madrid you think of Raul…well, that might just be the problem. For the past 10 years when you thought of Real Madrid you would have thought of Raul. Now, however, the names Ronaldo, Kaka, Benzema and even Xabi Alonso have become more associated with the club than their very own golden boy. Still only 32, Raul has quality in abundance but could the unimaginable thought of him playing for a club other than Real Madrid, finally, become a real prospect?
Raul has spent 15 years at Real and scored 226 in 536 games. He became the first player to score 50 champions league goals and still holds the record with 66. In his time at Real he has won 6 La Liga titles, 4 Spanish Super Cups, 3 Champions League titles and 1 Uefa Super Cup title. Not a bad record hey. The arrival of Ronaldo, Kaka and Benzema combined with the outstanding form of Gonzalo Higuain has meant that Raul’s appearances have been fairly limited. He may still have the power to influence many decisions at the club but it seems that, with the team winning games, his influence on the pitch will remain a small one.
So are Real better without him?
Well, they successfully reached the last 16 of the Champions League. A favourable draw against Lyon should not pose to much trouble to the team currently 5 points behind Barca in La Liga. Benzema, Higuain, Ronaldo and Kaka have scored 64% of the teams goals this season, the site of those 4 players breaking on a counter-attack can make your eyes blur and it has been devastating this season. With Raul they just aren’t that fast on the break, a tactic that Real have used on a number of occasions this season. His recent comments will have caused a media storm in the capital amid rumours that he will leave if the situation remains the same in the summer.
“At the moment my present is with Real Madrid. I want to focus on the team and the two competitions in which we are still alive. There will be time later on to speak about my future and what may happen.””
How much of that is a captain’s way of not wanting to upset the current team morale is yet to be seen. The way the situation is going it is likely to be a battle between Raul and Manuel Pellegrini, a battle that Spain’s poster-boy is losing.
Unless Raul revitalises himself in a Ryan Giggs anti-anthiritis way, the likelyhood is that he will be playing his last seasons for a club other than Madrid’s number 1 team. Having started out his career at city rivals Atletico, it would be an extremely interesting situation should they come calling. The fact that Raul is generally welcomed at the Vicente Calderon with a 3 letter sentence consisting of ‘hijo’ would suggest that might be wishful thinking but considering the thought of Raul ever leaving the white of Madrid was previously obscene might give hope to other unlikely happenings!
Although definitely not forgotten at Real Madrid, it would be hard to see an uproar among fans if he was to leave. As is the case in Spain, the results usually depict the mood of the fans more than the team that is being played. With Raul of the bench and Real winning, few fans will be complaining and Pellegrini will survive another week. However, an El Classico at the Bernabeau and some crunh Champions League fixtures might see a change in the wind. The next few months will be crucial, not just for the future of Raul but also Pellegrini.
If the white handkerchiefs begin to wave it could be time for the return of the king.