Real Madrid remain inactive while Barcelona dominate the winter window

Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane, Florentino Perez (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane, Florentino Perez (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images) /
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FC Barcelona have dominated the winter transfer window, while Real Madrid have continued to sit on their hands, refusing to sign players. Here’s why this could spell trouble for Real Madrid.

Real Madrid have been off to a terrible start to their La Liga title defense. After another embarrassing draw to Celta Vigo, Real Madrid find themselves 16 points off of FC Barcelona at the top of the table.

However, given the disparities in transfer activity between the two clubs, you would think it’s Barcelona who is trying to catch up to Real Madrid, not the other way around.

Real Madrid, under the tutelage of Club President Florentino Perez, has long been known as the club of the Galacticos, the Super Stars. No pricetag is too small, and no player too big to scare away Real Madrid.

In recent years, Real Madrid has shifted away from a strict Galacticos policy to a policy of “Bales y Carvajales” (an allusion to Zidanes y Pavones, when Real Madrid had both Galactico super stars and youth players making up their squad). With an increasing emphasis on developing youth players, Real has focused on building a sustainable squad rather than bringing in whatever hot new item they could find on the transfer market.

I fear, however, that the pendulum has begun to swing too far in the opposite direction. This summer, Madrid opted to allow Kylian Mbappé to transfer to PSG, unwilling to match the astronomical wage bill the Parisians offered to the young French striker. And while Madrid brought in solid midfield players in Marcos Llorente and Dani Ceballos, and a decent backup striker in Borja Mayoral, they also let the immense talents of James Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata escape without replacing their goal count.

Real Madrid got embarrassed by Barcelona in the first El Clásico of the season, right before the winter transfer window opened for business. You would have thought that this result may have spurred Madrid into action, at least giving fans a token of hope that Real were trying their best to turn this season around.

Thus far, signs point only to disappointment. Zinedine Zidane in particular has frustrated many in the Real Madrid faithful by repeatedly asserting that Real Madrid have no plans to sign new players in January. I understand the impetus that Zidane has to trust his squad players, but when the B-Team can’t even manage to pull off a win against Numancia in the Copa del Rey, I worry that Zidane’s faith in his backups might be misplaced.

Specifically, Zidane has quashed the idea that Madrid are interested in signing Athletic goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. This was incredibly frustrating to hear for Real Madrid fans who were initially excited to learn about reports which suggested that Kepa was in Madrid for a medical.

Meanwhile, Barcelona have sprung into action during the winter transfer window, despite their massive lead at the top of the table. Attempting to take their game to a whole other level, Barcelona put in a massive bid for Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, one which was ultimately successful.

Not content with simply bolstering the attack, Barcelona have also just signed a new defensive player, Palmeiras center-back Yerry Mina. Barcelona have now strengthened both their attack and their defense, while Real Madrid look increasingly content to stay the course with the exact squad they currently have.

Barcelona’s actions in the transfer window should dispel many of the tired cliché’s about the winter transfer window. The idea that you can’t bring in players who would make an immediate impact, or that there’s no value to bringing in players who are already cup-tied, simply doesn’t add-up in the contemporary moment, where Super Clubs like Barcelona, Bayern, and Madrid are expected to compete across all competitions throughout the season.

It’s true, Los Blancos should not necessarily feel compelled to buy players simply because their rivals decided to. Nor should they rush into signings that they don’t need.

But with Real Madrid playing dire football at the moment, with Los Blancos’ strikers currently shooting blanks, with Madrid’s defense leaky as a sieve, and with Barcelona strengthening a squad that is all but already guaranteed to win the La Liga title, it would be equally unwise for Real Madrid to let these inherent concerns about the winter window spurn them to inaction.

There’s always a risk of overpaying for players, but who cares? Real Madrid have been keeping their powder dry, and have spent less on transfers this season than any other major European club, according to Marca.

It’s also not like there aren’t players out there who could immediately strengthen Real Madrid’s squad. Alexis Sanchez, having refused to sign a new contract with Arsenal, is currently being shopped around to both Manchester City and Manchester United. Given UEFA’s exception to the cup-tie rule, that allows clubs to add one new player to their group stage roster that has already played in a European competition for another club, Alexis would make a perfect signing for Real Madrid.

Next: Player ratings for Real Madrid 2 - 2 Numancia in Copa del Rey

The January transfer window is open, and Perez has the opportunity to invigorate the squad with a few new signings. Real Madrid should stop sitting on their hands, and give fans something to hope about.

Stay tuned to The Real Champs for more coverage of the January transfer window.