There are still 40 days to go until that transfer deadline day. The day we all endlessly press the F5 refresh key on our computer keyboards, watch the Sky Sports or BBC transfer clock watch count down, and listen to rumours of players catching late night helicopter rides or sorting out their last minute transfer at the local motorway service station.
But maybe this year it won’t be as exciting. All the big clubs are doing their deals early, which will ultimately leave the also-rans scraping around on the final day before that window slams shut.
Real Madrid have been busy in recent days, spending around 100 million euros to secure the signatures of Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez. But how are Los Blancos shaping up? And as they set out to defend the Champions League title they won in May, how does the squad compare with Europe’s other giants?
Business so far:
Carlo Ancelotti didn’t really need to add too much to his squad. They are European champions after all. But an area in which Los Blancos were sometimes exposed last season was in central midfield. Xabi Alonso is in the twilight of his career now, while Asier Illarramendi struggled at times to adapt to the pressure of playing at the world’s biggest clubs. With Sami Khedira injured for most of the campaign, Real lacked a midfielder who could take a game by the scruff of the neck.
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The arrival of Toni Kroos from Bayern Munich last week was quite the capture. In the German World Cup winner, Real have got a gem. As strong as an ox combined with a brilliant range of passing. Coming off the back of a successful tournament in Brazil, the 24-year-old brings a winning mentality to the squad too, helping them as they go in quest of six trophies this season. At the same time as strengthening the Real midfield, Los Blancos’ capture of Kroos has also weakened a rival in the Champions League. Our friends over at FCBayernCentral.com analyzed the situation not long ago, and while they admitted the chance to take the money on offer would be tempting, ultimately they felt it would be better if he had stayed. “Let’s get one thing straight. I would rather Toni Kroos stay at Bayern Munich. He’s a special talent who, at his age, could become a Bayern legend and contribute a lot to the team,” they said.
James Rodriguez has also arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu – something that could delight PSG fans as their closest domestic rival, Monaco, will no doubt be weaker for it. The French champions could also benefit from the Colombian’s arrival in the Spanish capital by making a bid for Angel di Maria. The Argentine almost left last summer, and looks likely to be shown the exit door this time around. At 60 million euros, it would be a great piece of business for Real. Di Maria is a tricky customer, as defenders in the French league will find out, but his game lacks goals and he needs more cutting edge. I feel sorry for him though, as he is one of the hardest workers in the side and does his fair share of defensive duty. Should PSG get their man, much can be expected from them in next year’s Champions League – an attacking line up including Ibrahimovic, Lavezzi, Cavani and di Maria would be amazing.
Last year’s finalists, and Real’s city rivals, Atletico de Madrid have seen plenty of changes. Diego Costa and Felipe Luis – two key players in the run to the final in Lisbon – have left for Chelsea. But the arrival of Mario Mandzukic from Bayern continues a long tradition of having some fine centre forwards. There is still plenty of time to go, but I doubt Los Rojiblancos will hit the same dizzy heights as last season – Courtois will be a big loss in goal.
Elsewhere, Barcelona have brought in Luis Suarez but are still a defender short, and have lost a lot of experience with Xavi Hernandez and Victor Valdes leaving.
Madrid already look strong – the two players in have already improved a double-winning squad. Keylor Navas looks set to be the next arrival, paving the way for either Iker Casillas or Diego Lopez to leave.
There will be other departures though – Sami Khedira could well be off to Arsenal or Chelsea – despite reports interest in him has cooled as he’s had a change of heart and wants a new deal. Di Maria looks PSG-bound with Manchester United having pulled out of a deal, while Casemiro has already left the club on loan for a year at Porto.
Ancelotti could also dip into the market for a striker too – former Atletico man Radamel Falcao has been earmarked for the role, while Alvaro Negredo was also mentioned.
As it stands though, the area where Madrid needed strengthening was in midfield and they have already sorted out that problem. Their rivals should be worried.