Real Madrid Summer Transfer Window Verdict 2023 | THT Opinions

With the transfer window now done and dusted, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the business conducted by Real Madrid.

The 2022/23 season did not go according to plan for Real Madrid. Los Blancos ended up finishing second in La Liga, and their run in the UEFA Champions League ended in the worst possible fashion. As a result, they entered the summer transfer market looking to bolster their squad.

While their major focus was on signing players, some departures came as a shock to the club and the fans. In the end, Real Madrid had to adjust accordingly, and they seem to have done a decent job given their recent results.

Los Blancos were second best throughout the 2022/23 La Liga season, and they ended up losing the title race to Barcelona quite comfortably. While things did not go according to plan in the league, they were quite a force in the Champions League.

Real Madrid once again made it to the semi-finals of Europe’s premier club competition. They squared up against Manchester City, and the first leg went according to plan. But, in the second leg, Pep Guardiola’s City smashed Los Blancos 4-0. While they did win the Copa del Rey, it was not really successful as per their lofty standards.

The disappointment in the 2022/23 season, gave the people at the club a clear idea of what was needed to be done during the summer transfer market. The idea was clear: sign a young world-class striker who could cover for Karim Benzema and eventually take over from the French international.

Los Blancos wanted to add new full-backs to the mix, Ferland Mendy’s absence due to injuries caused a lot of trouble and they didn’t want to repeat something similar. Apart from these two major concerns, Real Madrid’s priority was to acquire the services of Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund.

But, things did not really go according to plan for the record Champions League winners. Nonetheless, they did manage to do some interesting piece of business.

Ins and outs

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Real Madrid’s transfer window did not get off to a perfect start, as things did not go according to their plans, with Karim Benzema requesting to part ways with the club. The 35-year-old superstar wanted to leave and join Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia.

Los Blancos did not stand in his way as a sign of respect towards their second-highest goalscorer ever. Even Marco Asensio decided against renewing his contract and ended up leaving as a free agent. Meanwhile, Madrid and Eden Hazard mutually decided to terminate his contract.

Outs: Karim Benzema, Marco Asensio, Eden Hazard, Mariano Díaz, Antonio Blanco, Álvaro Odriozola, Jesús Vallejo (Loan), Reinier (Loan), Rafa Marin (Loan). 

The departures left a major void in Real Madrid’s attack, and they were forced to look for reinforcement. Los Blancos played it smart and signed Joselu on loan and then brought back Brahim Diaz from AC Milan. Without spending much, they had to add a bit of quality.

The Merengues then went after their biggest summer target Jude Bellingham and managed to land him at the club. Post that they added quite a few players to ensure they had enough squad depth. Towards the end of the transfer window, a long-term injury to their number one Thibaut Courtois resulted in them acquiring the services of Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Ins: Jude Bellingham, Arda Guler, Fran Garcia, Kepa Arrizabalaga (Loan), Joselu (Loan), Brahim Diaz 

Real Madrid surely lost a lot of quality in the summer, but they did manage to add some exciting young talent to their ranks. While there still seem to be a few concerns, it looks like a well-balanced squad.

Marquee Signing

Jude Bellingham

Real Madrid acquired the services of Jude Bellingham on June 14, 2023. They signed the 20-year-old midfielder for a whopping €103 million fee plus add-ons. Los Blancos had identified him as a key transfer target heading into the transfer window, and they were ready to go all out to land him at the club.

While the 20-year-old is a central midfielder and his arrival helps them transition from Luka Modric and Toni Kroos to the new lot, the England international is very highly rated by Carlo Ancelotti, who believes he can fill the void left by Karim Benzema.

Bellingham is already amongst the best in the world, and Ancelotti seems to have taken him to another level by playing him as a central attacking midfielder in a 4-4-2 Diamond. The 20-year-old plays just behind Vinicius Junior and Rodygo. And, in terms of goal contributions, he is surely filling the void left by Benzema.

The former Borussia Dortmund star has been involved in four La Liga games and has managed to contribute towards six goals. He has scored five and bagged an assist so far. Bellingham has already won Real Madrid a few fixtures and he seems destined for greatness at the club with the iconic number ‘5’ jersey on his back.

Value for Money Signing

Fran Garcia

Fran Garcia was a part of Real Madrid’s youth academy before joining Rayo Vallecano back in the summer of 2021. The 24-year-old was a highly-rated youngster who went from strength to strength post joining Rayo. His impressive performances resulted in a lot of interest from across Europe.

Real Madrid had retained a preferential option on the player. As a result, they ended up securing his services back in February, with the player expected to return to his childhood club in the summer. And they re-signed him for just €5 million.

The 24-year-old is an absolute bargain given his performances since returning. And Garcia has featured in all four of their La Liga games while putting in some impressive shifts. The former Rayo Vallecano defender is capable enough to be a first-team regular at Madrid. As a result, Los Blancos are not really worried about the absence of Ferland Mendy.

Inevitable Departure

Eden Hazard

After the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid’s search for a new galactico started. While they did not land a superstar in the summer of 2018, they did go big in the summer of 2019 to sign Eden Hazard from Chelsea.

Los Blancos were long-time admirers of the Chelsea superstar, and they went all out and paid an initial fee of £120 million to land him at the club. The Madrid-based club agreed to pay a weekly wage of £400,000 and made him one of their highest-paid players.

While even Hazard was eager to play for Los Blancos, his dream turned into a nightmare. The 32-year-old Galactico could not fulfill his destiny. He struggled throughout the four years that he was at the club. The former Chelsea winger lost his spot in Vinicius, and he was no longer an important part of their first team.

Hazard was on humongous wages. As a result, the club decided to hold a meeting and discuss his future. The player and the club decided to mutually terminate his contract. Getting him off their books has helped them to a great extent financially.

The Big Miss

Ferland Mendy

Real Madrid have done exceptional business in the recently-concluded transfer window. They have done the majority of things right and have offloaded every player the Real Madrid fans would have wanted to see the back of.

While it seems to be near-perfect business, it could have been even better if they could have offloaded Ferland Mendy. No doubt, the 28-year-old has played an integral part in Real Madrid’s success over the past few seasons but consistent injuries have become a major headache.

Mendy has suffered injuries at crucial junctures of a season, and the frequency of him getting injured is going up with every passing season. As a result, offloading him for the right price and adding another defender would have helped Los Blancos’s cause.

The Merengues have already added Fran Garcia who can be their first choice at left-back, and signing another full-back in this window could have been a great move going forward.

Verdict (8/10)

Real Madrid had a near-perfect transfer window, as they did almost everything right. Los Blancos have worked on reinforcing the team. They have signed players to cope with the absence of those who have left the club.

But, there is something that still does not feel right. Real Madrid have enough attacking firepower but they don’t have a world-class striker. Apart from that, they have a new full-back in Fran Garcia and they have added Bellingham to the mix.

The change in formation from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 for now suggests that they might not need a world-class striker. That is because Jude Bellingham is scoring goals for fun and Real Madrid have midfielders who can contribute in the final third.

But, the reality is that if in case Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes, who are relatively young, hit a rough patch, scoring goals could become a concern. And, the only reason why Madrid might not have gone all out for a new striker is their obsession with Kylian Mbappe. As a result, despite having done almost everything right they get a decent 8/10 for their performance in the transfer market.

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