It’s difficult to imagine an offseason minus the machinations of Real Madrid and their Galactico-obsessed president Florentino Perez, but yesterday FIFA banned the Spanish giants from signing players in the next two transfer windows for violating rules governing the signing of minors to youth teams. This means that, barring an appeal, the current January transfer window is Real Madrid’s last opportunity to stockpile players, as they will be unable to add to their squad until the summer of 2017.
Given the club’s tendency to needlessly chop and change its squad, this might not be such a bad thing. In the past, Real Madrid’s penchant for big-name signings has meant their squad is in a perpetual state of flux, with players not given the time and patience they need to gel as a team. In all likelihood, this would have also been the case going forward had FIFA not come down with this transfer ban.
Eden Hazard was set to be a surefire target in the summer of 2016, but the Chelsea player’s recent form does not make him a clear upgrade over James Rodriguez and Isco. Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba would likely only be attainable for world-record sums of money – the former might not the best option to play between Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, while the latter would break up the established midfield pairing of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos. Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea would also cost a pretty penny, but he would make for needless spending given the fine form of Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas. The transfer ban might just be a blessing in disguise, as it will prevent Perez from unsettling his squad through ill-advised sales and purchases of players.
This doesn’t mean the squad will be at risk of stagnating. Real Madrid will still be able to strengthen strategically by welcoming back players who have been sent out on loan to other teams. The experienced Fabio Coentrao could be recalled from AS Monaco to provide competition for Marcelo at left back. Playmaking winger Marco Asensio has been brilliant at Espanyol, while highly-rated central defender Jesus Vallejo is captaining second-division side Real Zaragoza at the ripe old age of 19.
The ban will also force Real Madrid to hand more opportunities to the young talent coming up through the reserve team, Real Madrid Castilla. Castilla were coached by none other than current first-team boss Zinedine Zidane for the past season and a half, so the French legend is well placed to call upon his former charges as needed. This would certainly please Madridistas envious of the stacks of homegrown talent consistently on display over at the Camp Nou.
Ultimately, this transfer ban could give Real Madrid’s squad the stability and continuity it has long been crying out for. The capital club’s squad is as talented and deep as any, and will now be given the chance to blossom rather than being unsettled by the signing of superstars just for the sake of it.
Bitter though it may taste, a transfer ban might just be the tonic Real Madrid needs to be saved from itself.
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