Friday, June 12, 2009
Florentino Perez is clearly playing fantasy football in the real world right now with the mega-signings of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka in the past few days. It also does not appear he is finished collecting superstar players Galacticos 2.0, with David Villa, Franck Ribery, Xabi Alonso, Nemanja Vidic and Javier Mascherano all still rumored to be moving to the Bernabeu this summer, with the Villa move looking ever more likely these days. So, what will his new manager, Manuel Pellegrini, have to play with at beginning of next season? And what his favored lineup be?
Perez has said he will trim 10 players from the current roster to make way for the new signings. Whether this means he will cut down the squad size or Perez intends to sign 10 new players is not clear. Although, it likely means next season's roster will be smaller than this season's.
The Blancos roster at the end of this season looked like this:
12 Agus D 16 Gabriel Ivan Heinze D
28 Alberto Alberto Bueno F 20 Gonzalo Gerardo Higuaín F
27 Chema Anton D 19 Klaas-Jan Huntelaar F
5 Fabio Cannavaro D 24 Javi García M
1 Iker Casillas G 12 Marcelo D
13 Jordi Codina G 21 Christoph Metzelder D
18 Ruben De la Red M 2 Michel Michel Salgado D
6 Lassana Diarra M 35 Miguel Palanca F
6 Mahamadou Diarra M 17 Daniel Parejo M
15 Royston Ricky Drenthe D 3 Pepe D
25 Jerzy Dudek G 7 Raúl F
18 Julien Faubert M 11 Arjen Robben M
8 Fernando Rubén Gago M 9 Javier Saviola F
29 Gary Gary D 4 Sergio Sergio Ramos D
14 Jose Maria Guti M 10 Wesley Sneijder M
28 Marcos Ramiro Tebar M 22 Miguel Torres D
23 Rafael Van der Vaart M 17 Ruud Van Nistelrooy F
26 Velayos D
Dudek, Salgado, and Cannavaro are gone, but Ezequiel Garay returns from loan and you must add Ronaldo and Kaka to the list as well.
So, who gets culled from the roster?
It won't be a firesale because Real can afford to keep the players but there might be some discounts to be had and players will certainly want to leave for more playing time. Ruud, Heinze, Robben, Van der Vaart and Sneijder have all been rumored to be leaving. In fact, the Dutch contingent in Madrid could be nearly wiped out this offseason.
It is looking very likely that Villa will be coming in, so it makes it much more likely that Ruud, who is coming off an injury and is getting up there, and Saviola, who barely had any playing time this year, will on their way out. Huntelaar, while a new acquisition, could also be shipped on his way, but I think it unlikely.
Current midfielders at the Bernabeu should be very worried about their status. Kaka will take up the starting central attacking midfield position and everybody else will be second choice and deservedly so. Van der Vaart, who likes the central role with either have to slide over to the wings for playing time or sit back in a reserve role. Guti, the long-time Blanco and vice-captain, would likely be a much more willing reserve.
Ronaldo will take up a starting winger position meaning Robben, Sneijder and Van der Vaart will all have to fight for time on the wing. If Real signs up Ribery this will mean only more competition. This would seem to add credent to Van der Vaart leaving Madrid and likely either Robben or Sneijder leaving for greener pastures. My money would be on Robben leaving since he can only play on the right side, whereas Sneijder is a bit more versatile. None of these three will like severly reduced playing time that next season will likely bring if all remain.
In the defense the only likely exit will be Heinze due to his age. This is the one area where Real Madrid does not have a surfeit of talent and will likely bring in another central defender and left fullback (Raul Albiol? Vidic? Who else?).
As an LFC fan, I would swap Alonso for Gago and Sneijder/Higuain if Perez wants Xabi so badly. Fair deal if you ask me.
With so much offensive firepower, what do you think the preferred lineup for Pellegrini will be?
My best guess would be a 4-2-3-1.
Sneijder - Kaka - Ronaldo
Diarra - Gago
Marcelo - Metzelder - Pepe - Ramos