Oh, to be Real Madrid—on top of both La Liga and the Champions League, and making boatloads of money in the summer transfer window off of players that never became sure-fire starters.
First it was second-choice striker Alvaro Morata to Chelsea. This was a sensible move for the Blues, who needed a proven striker up top amidst rumors of Diego Costa’s clashes with Antonio Conte, but a transfer fee rumored to be in the ballpark of £60 million is a very steep price to pay for the 24-year-old Spaniard, who is equal parts potential and production at the moment. Morata could yet be a star at Stamford Bridge, but Madrid have to be pleased given that they’ve made almost a 100% profit on the youngster after just one season of (in)consistent La Liga play.
The second course was the real steal, though: 26-year-old Brazilian right back Danilo, who has failed to impress in appearances in relief of Dani Carvajal, was just sold to Manchester City for a fee around £26.5 million. City are fullback-starved and loaded with cash, yes, but given that they’d just splashed a world-record fee on a right-back in Kyle Walker, the move for an out-of-favour, mid-twenties defender who figures to be largely a backup feels odd, particularly given that Pep Guardiola released about four fullbacks this summer. Any of the bunch could have provided squad rotation on the cheap.
None of this will trouble Madrid, of course. In a transfer market full of buyers, Los Blancos have quietly managed an impressive summer window by doing the unthinkable—selling. The club’s accomplishments to date read like an ideal to-do list for Zinedine Zidane: made a massive profit off a second-string striker; sold off a middling right back for almost all of his original transfer fee; conducted a savvy bit of business in letting James Rodriguez take his talents to Bayern Munich on a two-year loan before returning to the Bernabeu; effectively squashed the annual Cristiano Ronaldo transfer rumors.
These moves have allowed Zidane to keep his squad relatively intact, all while loading up the bank for a potential blockbuster move. If all the sales to this point have merely been a prelude to the acquisition of Monaco wonderkid and budding world superstar Kylian Mbappe, Madrid will have pulled the biggest rabbit out of their hat to date. For now, though, fans of Los Blancos will have the pleasure of wondering what new pieces will be playing in the Bernabeu this season as they reap the rewards of the front office’s hard labor.