At the time of writing, Real Madrid’s summer spending for the 2019/20 season stands at €303 million – and they’re not finished yet, not by a longshot.
Burned by the failures of the 2018/19 season, Los Blancos have a point to prove and they’re making it by carrying out the biggest transfer spree in their history. The question is, will it pay off or is it a gamble that will lead to more disappointment?
As I explain, there’s plenty of reason to believe that it’s not a gamble at all.
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2018/19 was a truly terrible season for Los Blancos
It didn’t need to be the final day of play for the 2018/19 to be a season to forget for Real Madrid and the club’s fans. That happened definitively on 16 April 2019, when Los Blancos were defeated by a vibrant and exciting team who play their home games in white and red, AFC Ajax. However, the seeds were sown much earlier than that – on 31 May 2018, when Zinedine Zidane announced his resignation.
Zidane’s resignation was the start of a series of poor decisions, player disputes, and PR disasters for Real Madrid. There was the hiring of Spain manager Julen Lopetegui, a man whose previous club work suggested he was a sacking waiting to happen – indeed, it was surprising he lasted as long as four months. Then there was the patchy form under Santiago Solari, and the decision of Sergio Ramos to get booked to save himself for a Champions League quarter-final that never happened.
By the end of 2018/19, Real Madrid were not the top-ranked team in Europe, Spain, or even Madrid. Drastic action was required and the wheels had already been set in motion by the re-hiring of Zidane.
From the galacticos in 2009 to the sensatos in 2019?
Zidane achieved the impossible for Real Madrid by winning and then twice defending the trophy the club prizes above all others – the Champions League. He left Real on a high that’s near impossible for him to match (let alone exceed), so why would he return? To rebuild Los Blancos in his image.
Zidane inherited a team that had moved beyond the galacticos that he played in – there hadn’t been an enormous splurge on players since 2009, with the last galactico being the signing of James Rodríguez. Zidane made Real successful by using players bought for the right reasons. So has he scrapped that by spending over €300 million since he returned? No.
Cristiano Ronaldo & Kaka were signed in 2009 as Ballon d’Or winners, as were Ronaldo, Luís Figo, and Zidane himself when joining the club. These were proven players who (with the exception Cristiano Ronaldo) played their best football prior to joining Real. This is not the case with the 2019 signings.
Even Hazard, at 28, has enough left to prove to make him a sensible signing. And as for the rest of the signings – Luka Jovic, Éder Militão, Ferland Mendy, and Rodrygo are all players yet to reach their peak. These are players who are filling holes within the squad and first team – they are not galacticos, they are sensatos.
Will Real Madrid’s sports gamble be a bet that pays off?
Real Madrid have made some great signings during the reigns of Florentino Pérez. None have been better than Cristiano Ronaldo and even he was a gamble – there was no guarantee he would match his Man Utd form, let alone blow it away. So will Real Madrid’s sports gamble be a bet that pays off? Who knows?
Let’s be clear about one thing – there’s no such thing as a sure bet in sports, even when betting for great odds at a reputable online casino you can lose. So imagine what it’s like bringing a series of players from disparate backgrounds into a capital city – it’s full of uncertainty. But Real’s gamble is one made for the right reasons and there’s much to suggest that it’s a sports bet that will pay off.
Consider the team that can line-up for Real Madrid next season.
Militão; Varane; Ramos; Mendy
Casemiro; Kroos; Modric
Vinícius Júnior; Jovic; Hazard
And this is before the arrival of Pogba, Eriksen, Ndombele, or any other number of possible signings – without even considering some of the fine players already at the club. This is a team that can win, and do so with style.
Perhaps, the question is not whether Real Madrid’s transfer 2019/20 spree is a sports bet that will pay off. Instead, it might be the earlier gamble of re-hiring Zidane, a manager who has never built a team, or coached players of potential to become world beaters. Will he succeed? Let’s wait and see.