Real Madrid’s summer business is the kind the club are known for – splashing the cash on those players they believe fit their bill. By the beginning of July, Madrid had already spent in excess of €303m on new signings and agents fees, beginning a new Galacticos era at the club after some quiet spending in the past few transfer seasons which focused on youth.
Real Madrid have already spent a total of €303 Million this transfer window:
• Eden Hazard: €100M
• Luka Jović: €60M
• Eder Militão: €50M
• Ferland Mendy: €48M
• Rodrygo: €45M
— Vamos Hazard (@VamosHazard) June 15, 2019
Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy, and Rodrygo Goes were brought into the team to make a statement to the rest of La Liga and the world (especially to Clasico rivals Barcelona who have adopted the Galacticos mentality of late).
However, the signings by the club in recent seasons have been largely unsuccessful, and have not given any value for the money spent by Madrid on them. It is still early stages of the season as we are less than 10 matches into it, but so far, it has looked like another big bust.
Last night’s 1-0 away victory against Sevilla was another terrible showing from the new signings, with only two of them getting any minutes and Zidane eventually having to thank his older players for saving his blushes.
Zidane wearing Madrid’s patience thin
Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane is probably the biggest Galactico in the current Madrid squad. In his playing days, he was one of the first Galacticos at Madrid during Florentino Perez’s first presidency stint at the club (2000-2007). He was signed in 2001 for €77.5m from Juventus (which would be around a whopping €328m in today’s market), and was the coach of Madrid for two and a half seasons from January 2016 which saw him lead the club to extend their incredible Champions League record and win a La Liga title to remain a step ahead of their closest rivals Barcelona. He also won a La Liga title, a Supercopa de España, the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup twice each in this period.
Following poor results by Real Madrid in the subsequent months, Zidane returned to the club in March 2019 and has since had a poor second stint, with a win ratio of below 50% (seven out of 16 La Liga and Champions League games, drawing four and losing five).
There is talk in the media about if Zidane will make it to December, with a few names coming up as potential replacements for the Frenchman if he were to lose his job, among which are Xabi Alonso and another former Madrid coach, Jose Mourinho.
His second stint is under even more scrutiny as he returned under the conditions of being able to shape the squad according to his tastes. Now he has the squad he wants at his disposal – with the exception of a few who he couldn’t get rid off and acquire – and he has failed to make any headway with them so far.
One of Madrid’s biggest signings in recent times is Thibaut Courtois, who was brought in from Chelsea €39.6m, becoming La Liga’s most expensive goalkeeper, surpassing the record set by Atletico Madrid for Jan Oblak (€16m). Though not one of Zidane’s signings, the Frenchman has always wanted to coach the Belgian and ostracised Keylor Navas from the team to accommodate him when he returned to the helm of affairs at Madrid. Meanwhile, Courtois has been abysmal for Madrid since joining in 2018 – so bad that he hasn’t kept a clean sheet since for the club since February 2019.
Keylor Navas had a great stint in Madrid but eventually left the club for PSG in the summer due to his lack of minutes, and reports have emerged that backroom staff in Madrid now regret the decision to let Navas go because they consider him a better goalkeeper than Courtois.
As destiny would have it, the Costa Rican made his PSG Champions League debut against Madrid and kept a clean sheet in a game which he was largely untroubled. The same could not be said for Courtois, though, who was beaten twice at his near post by another former Madrid man, Angel Di Maria before conceding the third goal in the dying minutes of the game in another miserable outing for the club.
Marca point out Navas has conceded 0 goals in his past 2 matches, whereas Courtois has conceded 5.
They say there's a 'Courtois Crisis', with the goalkeeper conceding for the 13th consecutive official Real Madrid match. pic.twitter.com/4kSpoehufK
— Sport Witness (@Sport_Witness) September 19, 2019
Photos of Navas winking at Courtois also began making the rounds on social media, as fans online mocked the Belgian.
— GiveMeSport Football (@GMS__Football) September 19, 2019
This performance, coupled with his poor form in the league will worry Los Blancos a lot and many fans will be wondering if the club did good business in shelling out the cash to make the Belgian La Liga’s most expensive goalkeeper.
So far, the transfer from Chelsea has simply not worked out, and his average SofaScore rating of 6.76 is a testament to this fact.
Madrid’s other Belgian and another one of Zidane’s favourites, Eden Hazard, had a poor outing on his full debut for Los Blancos against PSG. Hazard didn’t start the season with Madrid due to a hamstring muscular tear which he suffered on 16 August, but made his first appearance from the bench in the nervy 3-2 victory over Levante on matchday four of the 2019/20 La Liga season.
The 28-year-old showed some glimpses of his brilliance in the win over Levante at the Santiago Bernabeu, and put in an active shift against PSG which saw him earn a 7.3 rating from SofaScore (the highest of all Madrid players) but beyond his fighting for every ball and helping to drive Madrid forward on the attack, he could not muster some of the magic he is known for.
Against Sevilla, he was so bad that he earned the lowest ratings of anyone who played on the pitch that night. He won only six of his 23 duels, was dispossessed 17 times, and spurned one big chance in a match Madrid fought to win. It was a sad performance from the Belgian who was mocked severely on Twitter.
It leaves a lot to be said about Hazard and Madrid being a problematic mix, as there is no indication to show that he will get the same licence to roam freely and pull strings for the club just as he did with Chelsea. He has to battle Gareth Bale, Vinicius Jnr, Marcos Asensio (currently injured and out for the entire season), and fellow new recruit, Rodrygo Goes for a spot in the attack. There is also the problem of displacing James Rodriguez and Isco who can both be used in the attack as well as midfield.
While Hazard may get the nod over all of these players initially, he could very well lose his spot before he even gets it as the season progresses under Zidane.
21-year old Brazilian Eder Militao is still an unknown commodity, but he was signed by Madrid after an incredible 2018/19 season with Porto and was one of the best defenders in the Champions League last season.
He has only played one game for Madrid this season – came on as a substitute for club captain Sergio Ramos and earned a 6.3 SofaScore rating – with Raphael Varane and Ramos being the first-choice centre-back pairing, but the real test of his quality came during the Champions League encounter with PSG.
Ramos served a suspension for the Champions League game, hence Militao getting the nod for the game. It was opined by all that if Militao could acquit himself well in Ramos’ stead, Zidane would trust him more in the course of the campaign as he prepares for a future as one of Madrid’s first-choice centre-backs. But with his 6.9 SofaScore-rated performance, he has put a big dent in his chances at getting minutes, especially if something were to happen to Varane or Ramos. Last season at Porto, Militao averaged 2.6 tackles per game and 4.4 clearances per game in the Champions League, according to WhoScored, but that performance now seems like a lifetime away after his first full debut for Madrid.
Militao looks low on confidence. Madrid fans eat players like this. At this rate, he’ll be shipped off at a lesser price, meaning Madrid would have spent unsuccessfully again.
Ferland Mendy is the only one of the signings to have any meaningful impact at Madrid so far. The €50m, who is widely regarded as one of the very best rising talents in the world, poses a genuine challenge for Marcelo. He suffered a debilitating injury in his academy days and was told he wouldn’t play again, but for one year, he fought his way through injury and learned to walk again before returning to football.
He started the season with an injury, but got his chance in the 2-2 away draw at Villareal on 1 September and was widely praised for a great debut in which he earned a 7.0 SofaScore rating. In that match, he made four tackles and four interceptions, completed 51 of his passes (81%) and played four long balls (via WhoScored), a performance reminiscent of his breakout season at Olympique Lyon. The defender completed more dribbles than ANY defender in Europe’s top 5 leagues with 102 (75.7%) of his dribbles and had an average of 1.5 tackles and 1.1 interceptions per game. He was also only dribbled past just 0.1 times per game in Ligue 1 and 0.4 times in the Champions League compared to Marcelo who was dribbled past at least once per game in La Liga last season.
However, against PSG which proved to be his biggest test, he was really sloppy in defence and earned a 6.2 SofaScore rating. Considering that PSG is an old foe of the former Lyon player, it was worrying. His game against Sevilla was much more encouraging, earning a 7.4 SofaScore rating. However, this tempo needs to be kept up or Zidane will be forced to go back to Marcelo more often than not, especially in big games.
Madrid will welcome newly-promoted Osasuna to the Santiago Bernabeu next Wednesday in midweek La Liga play and the Madrid derby against Atletico follows on September 28. After these La Liga rounds, they’re back in the Champions League against a Club Brugge side who impressed on matchday one of the tournament, holding a dogged Galatasaray to a 0-0 home draw. The Belgian outfit may not have many goals in them, but certainly know how to defend and reply when pressured.
These matches will not be a walkover for Zidane and his boys and will be key to determining his future as Madrid coach.
Luka Jovic, Rodrygo and Takefusa Kubo are also part of Madrid’s new Galacticos but have not had any run of games in which we can evaluate their performances. Kubo, however, is spending his season on loan at RCD Mallorca and so far has looked good playing there. Jovic has played in all of Madrid’s La Liga games bar Sevilla; he has been used as a late substitute and started only one out of the four games he has played so far – the game against Villareal – and was below par in the game, that he had to be substituted before the 70th minute.
When signings fail to gel with the team by this time of the season, it becomes a matter of time before the club begins to count their losses with their transfer business.