Real Madrid look set to have a busy summer and they have already announced a couple of changes to their squad for the 2023/24 campaign.
Within the space of 24 hours over the first weekend of June, Real Madrid confirmed the imminent departures of Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard, Mariano Diaz and Marco Asensio. While the latter trio had less of an impact than Benzema, Los Blancos do have work to do this summer to replace the numbers in the squad with quality.
It also freed up some iconic squad numbers, with the No.7, No.9 and No.11 becoming vacant alongside the No. 24. While some clubs may have reserved the better numbers for new signings, perhaps even using them to entice players, Real Madrid have already reassigned two.
The biggest number, and probably the most iconic in Real Madrid’s history is the No.7 and that has been given to Vinicius Jr. Donned by the likes of Emiliano Butragueno, Raul and Cristiano Ronaldo, the No.7 has lost a bit of its magic in recent years with Mariano and then Hazard taking it. Many will have hoped Hazard would restore quality to the number, but the Belgian famously struggled at the Santiago Bernabeu before ending his contract a year earlier this summer.
But there will be no such worries of Vinicius Jr failing to live up to reputation of the No.7 as he looks set to become Real Madrid’s biggest star, especially now that Benzema has left. The Brazilian will go into 2023/24 off the back of his best ever club campaign, scoring 23 goals across all competitions, bettering his 2021/22 tally by one — on top of 19 assists. Vinicius vacates the No.20 shirt he has worn for the past three seasons, having also donned 28 and 25 for the senior squad.
There will also be a new No.11 at the Santiago Bernabeu for 2023/24 and it’s Vinicius Jr’s compatriot Rodrygo who takes that honour. The shirt number Rodrygo wore in his final season at Santos, the Brazilian also donned the No.11 while playing for Real Madrid Castilla in his first season in Europe – but combined it with 27 for the first team.
Rodrygo then saw his shirt number drop to 25 and then 21, which he has worn for the past two seasons. Now, Real Madrid will be hoping Rodrygo can breathe life into a No.11 jersey that has been a bit underwhelming in recent years. While legends like Paco Gento, Brazilian Ronaldo, Butragueno and even Benzema have all worn the No.11 over the years, there have also been a long list of bizarre names. Ricardo Carvalho, Esteban Granero, Michaeil Owen and Cicinho have also worn the No.11 during their time at the Santiago Bernabeu, with the less said about the former (a centre-back) the better.
Midnite Offer: Bet £10, get £20 in free bets + 50 free spins
Looking for some free bets to boost your betting fund? New bookmaker Midnite are offering customers the chance to get a £20 bet bonus and 50 free spins when they sign up and place a £10 accumulator bet.
- Sign up at Midnite using this link
- Use code BETGETSPORTS on signing up
- Place a £10 bet on 4+ legs, min odds 4.0 bet
- Claim your £20 bonus + 50 Free Spins
18+ New UK Customers. Must bet £10 in total on accas with 4+ legs, min odds 3/1 (4.0). £20 credited as 4x £5 Free Bets and 50 Free Spins, valid for 7 days on selected bets and games only, stakes not returned. Restrictions & T&Cs apply. BeGambleAware.org
Of course, Gareth Bale wore No.11 and won so many trophies at Real Madrid, but his time at the club may not be remembered as fondly by fans as it is neutrals. Asensio was the last to wear No.11 and while he was a fine servant for the club, and reliable, it didn’t scream star. But Rodrygo does, scoring 19 goals across all competitions last season with 10 assists.
With No.7 and No.11 gone, the question remains: which shirt number with Jude Bellingham get when his move officially goes through?
Borussia Dortmund have already confirmed a €103m initial fee for Bellingham with just personal terms to be agreed, and the potential for an extra 30% of the initial fee depending on the successes of Real Madrid and Bellingham over the next six seasons (from 2023/24 to 2028/29).
At Dortmund, Bellingham wore the No.22 shirt but that is currently on the back of Antonio Rudiger, and may not be vacated unless the Germany fancies himself as the No.9 or No.24. In terms of midfield numbers, No.5 is held by Jesus Vallejo and could easily be replaced, while 14, 20, 21 and 25 are also the lowest other free numbers.