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Despite winning their 35th La Liga title and retaining a chance to win the Champions League this season, Real Madrid find themselves at a crossroads.
The individual brilliance of Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior may have propelled Los Blancos to a dominating La Liga triumph, but attention will soon turn to Madrid’s bids to defend the title for the first time since 2007-08.
With the potential arrival of a genuine global superstar and one of the Premier League’s best defenders, as well as the question of freshening up a brilliant but aging midfielder, it promises to be an interesting few months at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Here, Stats Perform analyzes what Carlo Ancelotti’s men could do to fend off the potential challenge of an improved Barcelona next season.
The Mbappe conundrum: How would the superstar fit in?
For months, if not years, Real Madrid’s plans for 2022 seem to have revolved around one name: Kylian Mbappe.
While recent reports suggest the 23-year-old could still stay at the Parc des Princes, a move for the talismanic striker – who will be a free agent in June – cannot yet be ruled out.
Having scored 35 goals and provided 19 assists in 43 appearances in all competitions for Paris Saint-Germain, Mbappe would clearly be an asset to any team in European football, but the question remains how Mbappe will complement another Frenchman who scores for free in the Spanish capital.
Benzema became the fifth Madrid player in history to score more than 40 goals in a single season for the club (after Cristiano Ronaldo, Ferenc Puskas, Alfredo Di Stefano and Hugo Sanchez), and is being touted for the Ballon d’Or after having led Madrid’s journey in the Champions League. Benzema has scored 14 goals in 10 European appearances this season, averaging a goal every 65.1 minutes during a stunning campaign.
Mbappe and Benzema are no strangers to playing together, but the PSG striker failed to score and provided just one assist during France’s disappointing Euro 2020 campaign. he finished only one goal from the golden boot after scoring four times.
Things get more complicated when you consider the form of Vinicius, who has formed a deadly partnership with Benzema this season, recording his own 33 goals in all competitions (18 goals, 15 assists), and the preference of Mbappe to play from the left. could harm Vinicius.
However, Mbappe’s development towards a more well-rounded attacking talent should ensure he provides at least some threat no matter which flank he starts from.
As well as improving on his 11 assists from last season, Mbappe has completed more dribbles (138) at a higher success rate (50.74%) than Vinicius this season (130, 41.4%), and could join him to play a more creative role supporting Benzema.
Back in defense: The arrival of Antonio Rudiger
Having announced his intention to leave Chelsea at the end of his contract, Antonio Rudiger is another player heavily linked with a move to the Bernabeu ahead of next season.
The German defender was one of the Blues’ standout players under Thomas Tuchel, having starred in their Champions League triumph last year and enjoying another great campaign this season.
Rudiger has been a key part of the Premier League’s third-best defense this season, with Chelsea keeping 15 clean sheets and conceding just 28 goals despite dropping the title after a promising start.
The 29-year-old appears to be an upgrade to Madrid’s current defensive options following the departures of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane last year, offering more physicality than David Alaba and better defensive steel than Eder Militao, a partnership frequently exhibited by Manchester City. recently.
Rudiger would also offer a threat at the other end of the pitch, with his three league goals this season bettered by just one other Premier League centre-back (Jan Bednarek, four), and his ability to break out of defense was on display when he scored an astonishing 39-yard goal against Brentford in early April – Chelsea’s longest Premier League goal since January 2007
However, Rudiger has been used to playing in a back three at Chelsea and would be more likely to play as a right centre-back in a back four for Madrid unless Ancelotti opts to move Alaba to left-back.
Rudiger would probably have to dampen his attacking enthusiasm if he was paired with naturally forward-thinking Alaba, but he seems like a wise choice to further bolster a defense that has been the second strongest in La Liga this season (only Sevilla have conceded less of goals).
The case of Camavinga: time to look to the future?
The midfield trio of Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric will go down in Madrid history: they started together in three consecutive Champions League final victories between 2016 and 2018, with the Croatian also having played in the 2014 victory.
No one can question their quality or longevity. All three have made at least 35 starts this season, while Modric in particular has produced several lavish contributions in big games that have helped him bag nine assists, six more than any other Madrid midfielder.
However, given that they sometimes seem to lack a certain dynamism when not in possession of the ball, could Madrid benefit from some extra mobility in the engine room?
The signing of Eduardo Camavinga, who has made 35 appearances this season, was clearly made with such a move in mind, but the French youngster has started just 14 times in all competitions and would benefit from more game time next. next season as he seeks to improve. his full game.
However, neither Camavinga nor Federico Valverde possess the kind of metronomic abilities of Modric or Kroos, and the younger pair also average fewer passes in the final third per 90 minutes than their more experienced peers (6.25 and 6 ,1, respectively).
As such, with Mbappe and Rudiger rumored to arrive at no transfer fee, Madrid could still benefit from a dip in the market to acquire another young, progressive midfielder in a move that could also help extend the deal. excellence of Modric and Kroos.