Real Madrid Need More Squad Depth

(L-R) Lucas Vazquez of Real Madrid, James Rodriguez of Real Madridduring the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match between Real Madrid and SSC Napoli on February 14, 2017 at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
(L-R) Lucas Vazquez of Real Madrid, James Rodriguez of Real Madridduring the UEFA Champions League round of 16 match between Real Madrid and SSC Napoli on February 14, 2017 at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images) /

In the last few weeks, injuries have plagued the Real Madrid squad. Yet, Los Blancos maintain their lead atop La Liga and have a two goal advantage over Napoli in the Champions League. The only let down thus far this season is their elimination from the Copa del Rey at the hands of Celta Vigo. To the average football fan, such a record amongst an injury crisis is very satisfying. Nonetheless, when it comes to Real Madrid, no matter what the cost, victory is a must.

Here is what I think about our squad depth:

(Photo by Helios de la Rubia/Real Madrid via Getty Images)
(Photo by Helios de la Rubia/Real Madrid via Getty Images) /

Goalkeepers: 9/10

Having three goalkeepers, two brilliant and one promising, is a blessing for Los Blancos. There is no need to worry about this position. If either Keylor Navas or Kiko Casilla are injured there will be a reliable substitute.

(Photo by Angel Martinez/Real Madrid via Getty Images)
(Photo by Angel Martinez/Real Madrid via Getty Images) /

Defense: 7/10

Zidane has four great center backs. Three of them are world class (Sergio Ramos, Pepe, and Raphael Varane) and the fourth is underrated, the latter is Nacho. Moreover, Nacho also has another quality that very few defenders have, that is being equally good in all positions of the defense line, whether that be the full backs (right or left) or the center back (his main position).

It’s not the same story for the full backs though. On paper there are four full backs available. However, only three of them are practically functional, one of those three is terrible, and another one still walks while tracking back despite being at his peak.

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  • The dysfunctional one is Fabio Coentrao. Coentrao is an excellent full back who can be reliable when it comes to defensive duties. Unfortunately being very injury prone prevents him from being of much use to Real Madrid. He has spent the last two seasons injured more often than not. Last season he was loaned to Monaco and he didn’t manage to get a lot of play time due to the injuries he suffered over the course of the season. Taking all of this into consideration, it seems it’s better if the player and club part ways. The player doesn’t have much to give for the club, and the club needs players with a good injury record for rotation.

    Possible alternatives for Coentrao could be Marcos Alonso from Chelsea or Ricardo Rodriguez from VFL Wolfsburg. I prefer the latter, not only because he a more solid option than the former, but because he is much better than Marcelo when defending. Not to mention that Rodriguez will represent the fiercest competition Marcelo will ever have. Hopefully such competition brings out the best of Marcelo defensively.

    Danilo, much like Coentrao, has been having a very disappointing season, being more of a detriment to the club than a contributor. In order to stay and compete with Dani Carvajal next season, he needs to make the best of every minute he gets the remainder of this season. Otherwise he is highly likely to be offloaded by the end of the current campaign.

    Replacements for Danilo could be Hector Bellerin from Arsenal or Cedric Soares from Southampton. Surprisingly, my choice is neither. I’d prefer Lucas Vasquez to take that job (!!). I’ll explain that later.

    Midfield: 9/10

    Despite having a collection of tier 1 midfielders, there has always been a debate about whether it’s Toni Kroos or Casemiro who should take the starting spot for the defensive midfielder role. Luckily enough, this problem will probably be solved for good with the return of Marcos Llorente from Deportivo Alaves next season. The Madrid home-grown youngster has been making a serious name for himself in La Liga while on loan and his team will will face FC Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final.

    The return of Marcos Llorente next season will cause an overload in the midfield: 7 players for 3 positions. The most likely sale to happen is that of James Rodriguez. Though the Colombian is a sensational player, and dare I say Ballon D’or material, Zinedine Zidane’s way of thinking is too rigid to allow James to fit in and trust him like former manager Carlo Ancelotti did. James is too good to be on the bench, even Real Madrid’s bench. He’s not even considered as a super sub. It’s better if he tries to pursue his career with a team in which he’ll be a crucial part in its starting 11. He deserves it.

    For Isco, if the rumors about his departure are true, Real Madrid will need to find a center mid, preferably one who can play forward as a type of CAM with no difficulties. Otherwise an attacking midfielder who can do the defensive duties of a CM. There are lots of possibilities for this position. Here are some examples of players who can fit the bill: Dele Alli, Marco Veratti, Philippe Coutinho. There is also Marco Asensio, though that would leave the left wing without backup. Maybe even the reckless thought of allowing Martin Ødegaard to finally be an important part of the first team. After all, he will be on loan for the remainder of this season and all of next season as well. Then there is the unrealistic idea of the return of Angel Di Maria.

    (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)
    (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images) /

    Attack: 9/10

    The attack is probably our deepest line. For every position there are two players, each two fit that position perfectly. All of our forwards are brilliant. So why did I give it a 9 and not a 10? Lucas Vasquez.

    When you’re a forward who plays for Real Madrid, you need to be good at scoring goals. Lucas Vasquez has been instrumental in his work rate on both ends of the pitch. He dribbles, crosses, runs back and forth non stop, but when it comes to scoring, he’s not nearly as good as Gareth Bale who normally starts in the position on the right wing.

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    Though it may sound bizarre at first, I believe that the right back is the position that maximizes the Spaniard’s capabilities. It also lifts off the burden of having to score goals himself. Most people would argue that he is primarily a winger so changing his position and role isn’t that smooth. This is true, but is it impossible? Personally I see no difficulties in the player adapting to that position, except maybe time. Otherwise, he’s got what it takes to be a superb right back. Even better, with his skills on the ball, the right wing would be less predictable with him playing deeper in the formation.

    So who would replace Lucas Vasquez? Enter Pierre Emerick Aubameyang.

    The Gabonese striker has consistently hinted that he wants to wear the white shirt one day. Why not make his dream come true? Also let’s not forget that Bale gets injured frequently throughout the season, so it’s not like Aubameyang will find a scarcity in minutes. He’s so fast and talented, not to mention that he is a natural goal scorer. That means he could carry the team on his shoulders when Bale is injured and the rest of the attacking trident fail to deliver. Moreover, his speed can be a great asset in Real Madrid’s counterattacking approach.

    Let me know your thoughts in the comments!