Football Features

The players Real Madrid could sell to pay for Paul Pogba

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 17:33, 17 June 2019

Real Madrid are about to embark on the mother of all firesales.

Having already spent over €300m to bring in five new faces and refresh the squad as Zinedine Zidane requested, and with the possibility of the club’s second €100m+ transfer of the summer to come as the club chases a marquee midfielder (Paul Pogba or Christian Eriksen) it’s clear that Los Blancos need to raise some funds asap lest they be smote by the mighty hand of FFP.

Who could they sell? Well, With the exception of perhaps five to ten players the entire Madrid squad – including those that were out on loan last season – has their place up for debate. We’ve had a look at that debate and come up with answers for how Los Blancos should be handling their squad in terms of departures this summer.

Madrid have so many players on the chopping block that we’ve organised this list by position, starting with goalkeepers and working our way down to the strikers. Who should they keep? Who should they sell? Read on and find out!

Gareth Bale

Winger, 29-years-old

It’s a harsh world playing for Real Madrid. You can win the club two Champions League directly and play a massive part in a third, and yet because you’re not a fluent Spanish speaker and have a clumsy style of play… the Madridistas will hate you. Bale endures massive criticism and is very obviously not someone Zinedine Zidane likes, so set him free (though his asking price will have to drop like a stone because as it stands nobody who can afford him wants him).

VERDICT: SELL

Keylor Navas

Goalkeeper, 32-years-old

Keylor Navas was a hero as Real Madrid won three straight Champions Leagues, but he’s not handsome and he’s from the relatively unfashionable Costa Rica, so the Madrid hierarchy has never cared for him. Zinedine Zidane loves him, however, but with his own son pushing for more of a presence and the superior Thibaut Courtois also available, maybe it’s time for Navas to move on.

VERDICT: SELL

James Rodriguez

Attacking midfielder, 27-years-old

There was period from the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup to the end of 2014/15 when Carlo Ancelotti got sacked by Real Madrid that James Rodriguez looked like one of the greatest players on the planet. A magical no. 10, a glorious matinee idol who did the business on the pitch. Then it all slowly fell apart. He shone sporadically on loan at Bayern Munich, but it’s clear he needs a change of scenery and a club that will adore and build around him.

VERDICT: SELL

Marcos Llorente

Defensive midfielder, 24-years-old

Real Madrid will undoubtedly sell Marcos Llorente in real life, but that is a spectacularly bad decision. The Spaniard is a masterful defensive midfielder who has true world-class potential and is even descended from Madrid royalty (his great uncle is Paco Gento). Playing him at the base of midfield in a double or single pivot will transform the midfield performances at the Bernabeu and provide an amazing platform for the likes of Eden Hazard (and Paul Pogba?) to perform.

VERDICT: KEEP

Luka Modric

Midfielder, 33-years-old

The reigning Ballon d’Or has had a special career at Madrid but with the focus on regenerating the side, at 33-years-old he has to be one of the first out of the door. The front door, for sure, with an enormous fanfare and love and adoration – but he should definitely be encouraged to move on so that the Madrid midfield can do the same (with Paul Pogba and/or Christian Eriksen).

VERDICT: SELL

Dani Ceballos

Midfielder, 22-years-old

The Spanish midfielder is a masterful talent with the potential to rival or even surpass any other Madrid midfielder’s ability. Passing, tackling, dribbling, shooting; he can do it all. Zidane doesn’t fancy Ceballos and allegedly the youngster has remarked he’s no fan of his coach either; but Ceballos is such a special talent that Madrid cannot simply sell him and let him become a legend for another club.

So simply loan him out and allow him to play himself into the kind of form that will mean that Zidane has to ignore their feud. Alternatively, given the high rate of managerial turnover at the Santiago Bernabeu, he can simply wait for Zidane to get sacked and then waltz back in a hero.

VERDICT: LOAN

Isco

Attacking midfielder, 27-years-old

Isco started his Madrid career under Zinedine Zidane as a sub, he ended his time under Zidane as an absolute titan, and then his time after Zidane was awful. Zidane’s return has left a window for Isco to step up and perform. There are rumours linking him with a departure, but given how useful he has always proven himself in the final stages of the season and the fact that Madrid will need some squad depth up-top besides Brazilian teenagers, he should stick around.

VERDICT: KEEP

Theo Hernandez

Left-back, 21-years-old

Theo Hernandez left his brother and boyhood club Atleti to cross town and join Real Madrid as Marcelo’s heir. Turns out Marcelo was in no mood to step aside and Theo’s attitude went sideways in a hurry. He was rushed out on loan last season and will be sold before this one.

VERDICT: SELL

Sergio Reguilon

Left-back, 22-years-old

Sergio Reguilon stepped up in a big bad way last season, putting in a series of performances full of commitment. He was clearly willing to bleed and die for the Madrid shirt and fill in for Marcelo whenever required. Yet Los Blancos have gone and signed Ferland Mendy to take his place, so he should leave – but given Marcelo’s age, Reguilon should probably only leave temporarily in case the Brazilian’s decline is quicker than expected and Madrid may need a back-up left-back again soon. A loan works.

VERDICT: LOAN

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Jesus Vallejo

Centre-back: 22-years-old

Another magnificent young talent who joined Madrid to be part of a wonderful and promising young Spanish core only to be given no chance to actually prove that. Vallejo was also unlucky with injuries. Set the kid free, let him go find his bliss.

VERDICT: SELL

Nacho

Defender, 29-years-old

Nacho is a man born to be a back-up, or even a back-up to the back-ups. Able to play any of the four defensive positions, Nacho is an unremarkable player whom title challenges like the one Real Madrid want to mount next season are built on.

VERDICT: KEEP

Mateo Kovacic

Midfielder, 25-years-old

Mateo Kovacic was signed to be the “next” Luka Modric and to add some youth and dynamism to Madrid’s midfield. He did the latter two things, at least sporadically, but his failure to take his game to the next level left him superfluous. He was alright out on loan to Chelsea last season, and should be moved on permanently (maybe to Maurizio Sarri’s new club: Juventus?)

VERDICT: SELL

Lucas Vazquez

Winger, 27-years-old

The Spanish winger is far from the most talented player available to Real Madrid, but he works harder than anyone and is a natural right-winger. Those two things make him stand out despite his inferior talent-level, and are why Zinedine Zidane needs to make sure that Vázquez doesn’t leave the Bernabeu. You need warriors like him.

VERDICT: KEEP

Martin Odegaard

Winger, 20-years-old

Martin Odegaard signed for Real Madrid amongst a massive fanfare but it has since come out that Los Blancos only got him for the PR. He’s rebuilding his career in the Netherlands away from the mad spotlight of Madrid and should be allowed to continue doing that.

VERDICT: LOAN

Brahim Diaz

Winger, 19-years-old

Brahim Diaz was a bright prospect for Manchester City before joining Real Madrid in January 2019. Since then he’s featured occasionally and looked alright, but his ability to play on both wings (especially on the right) and his obvious talent despite his tender age of just 19, means that he should be kept around to help bolster Madrid’s front-line.

VERDICT: KEEP

Marco Asensio

Winger, 23-years-old

Marco Asensio is a winger so talented it’s scarcely believable that he’s not already a world star. His explosion in 2016/17, where he scored absolute bangers on his debut in pretty much every competition and bagged a goal in the Champions League final, should have led to true glory. Yet even though he began 2017/18 with two goals in two games he fell far out of favour and lost his spark.

Obviously Zidane’s return to the hotseat should have energised him but with the emergence of Vinicius Jr. and the signing of Eden Hazard, it’s as though Asensio’s spots in the squad have been taken. Given Madrid need to raise cash quick and Asensio is still so good that he’d generate a huge transfer fee, Los Blancos should probably sell the supreme winger they signed for just €3.9m.

VERDICT: SELL

Mariano

Striker, 25-years-old

He’ll probably have to give up the no. 7 shirt to one of Madrid’s new signings, but that doesn’t mean that Mariano should leave. The Dominican international was Madrid’s budget choice to be their back-up striker last summer, and whilst he will never rise above that, it’s a position Los Blancos will need him to continue in despite the arrival of Luka Jovic. Remember, Karim Benzema is injury-prone and unreliable. A sharp-shooter like Mariano will see minutes and they could be invaluable.

VERDICT: KEEP

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