Real Madrid: Why has Zinedine Zidane not used his summer signings more?

Theo Hernandez of Real Madrid during the UEFA Champions League group H match between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund on December 06, 2017 at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain.(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
Theo Hernandez of Real Madrid during the UEFA Champions League group H match between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund on December 06, 2017 at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain.(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images) /

Over the summer, Real Madrid saw several influential players leave the club. However, president Florentino Perez bought or brought back from loan five players that were expected to be critical in Real’s La Liga title defense. That has not been the case. Here’s why.

The summer transfer window is usually a time of improvement for teams as they prepare for the new campaign. For Real Madrid, the summer of 2017 following a La Liga and Champions League title might go down as one of the worst in club history.

The side hailing from the Spanish capital saw the likes of center back Pepe, academy grown striker Alvaro Morata, and promising depth striker Mariano Diaz all depart.

In place of those departing, president Florentino Perez signed just two players and brought three others back from loan stints across Europe.

The club signed Dani Ceballos from Real Betis after a great showing for the Spanish U-21 national team in the Euro tournament and Theo Hernandez from rival Atletico Madrid.

The three players brought back from loan were Marcos Llorente, Jesus Vallejo, and Borja Mayoral with Vallejo and Mayoral returning from Germany.

With all these young promising players at his disposal, why has Zinedine Zidane not elected to play them more?

While it seems like these five players haven’t featured prominently in the first-team squad, looking closely at their time played is jaw-dropping.

  • Borja Mayoral 14 (4 as a starter)
  • Dani Ceballos 13 (4 as a starter)
  • Theo Hernandez 11 (6 as a starter)
  • Marcos Llorente 9 (4 as a starter)
  • Jesus Vallejo 4 (4 as a starter)

Of the five players, the left-back, Theo, has the most time played featured, playing 24% of the minutes through the first half of the year.

While it should be noted that Vallejo has been dealing with multiple injuries, it is amazing that these players have not played in so many matches thus far with the club.

  • Jesus Vallejo 25 (20 not on the squad list)
  • Marcos Llorente 20 (11 not on the squad list)
  • Theo Hernandez 18 (4 not on the squad list)
  • Dani Ceballos 16 (2 not on the squad list)
  • Borja Mayoral 15 (9 not on the squad list)

The bench-warmers for Zizou through the fall of 2017 were both Ceballos and Theo while Borja was an option several times as well. The biggest problem I have with Zizou’s squad selection and decision making comes with Marcos Llorente.

While Real Madrid has a very good midfield with Casemiro anchoring the central defensive role, Llorente proved a year ago while on loan with Deportivo Alaves that he could potentially be a top CDM in Spain.

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Ceballos as well has heard his name being yelled from the stands at the Bernabéu with fans pleading Zidane to let the Spanish international see some more playing time (he has played just 458 minutes thus far this season).

Yet, the Frenchman has not budged with his squad rotation. Why is this?

I think that Zidane is afraid to rotate his team as much as he did last year because the first-team is not performing to where they should be. One of the main reasons why Los Blancos captured the double in 2016/2017 was because of Zidane’s expert squad rotation that saw key players sit out matches that weren’t as important.

With this strategy, we saw Morata, Maco Asensio, and even Isco break on to the scene and show their raw talent and ability. However this year, Zizou has not done the same for Ceballos or Llorente.

Real Madrid, mainly Zidane, need to step back and reassess the squad as a whole. Rotation is a good thing. Overplaying key players like Ronaldo, Kroos, or Modric, is a bad thing. Especially when trying to overcome a significant deficit in La Liga.

In conclusion, I think Zizou needs to relax.

His squad selections have been uncreative and stagnant. Injecting players like Ceballos, Llorente, and Theo will do nothing but improve the team because these players want to impress the fans and their manager whenever they get the chance to play.

While the results might not come immediately, in the long run, playing the young newer players will be a great thing for Real Madrid and Zinedine Zidane.

Next: Real Madrid: Karim Benzema out three weeks with a hip injury

Happy New Year from all of us here at The Real Champs!