Every year, the world of football lights up with a special buzz between July and September. The summer transfer window may be the most stressful period for club offices and media, but it is also the most entertaining and anticipated part of the year for fans.
Over the past three months, offices at Santiago Bernabeu worked day and night to oversee a perfect summer transfer window. The recent window will go down as a historical one, for it not only saw many legends depart the club but also witnessed the arrival of players who can define an era.
Meanwhile, the Atletico Madrid offices have been no less busy. Diego Simeone’s side had a relatively conservative yet effective transfer window that could change the entire equation in the La Liga race.
Madrid Universal brings you a comprehensive review of both the Madrid side’s activity in the recently concluded window.
Antonio Rudiger: 8/10
Signing a UEFA Champions League-winning defender is a move that can seldom go wrong. To do the same on a free transfer is a bargain.
Rudiger is a player who will not only bring physicality but also a sense of fearlessness to Real Madrid’s back line. More importantly, his versatility is a key that unlocks numerous tactical possibilities in Ancelotti’s roster.
The German international can play as a centre-back alongside Eder Militao, helping David Alaba return to his natural position of left-back. Alternatively, Rudiger himself is capable of playing at left-back.
All in all, a practical signing that goes a long way in improving the depth of Los Blancos’ squad.
Aurelien Tchouameni: 9/10
Real Madrid initially signed the youngster to be Casemiro’s deputy for the coming season. The club hoped that he would eventually replace the Brazilian legend and take over the reins in holding midfield.
However, the tables turned when Casemiro left the Spanish side anti-climactically. All of a sudden, Tchouameni is a regular member of the starting lineup and has big shoes to fill.
In his first few games as a Madrid player, the Frenchman has been spectacular. His defensive play and work rate have been on point since day one. Additionally, he has shown a mature understanding of his role and possesses a spark in his attacking contributions too.
The price tag of €100 million may be off-putting, but the Frenchman will definitely be worth it.
Perhaps the most shocking move of the entire summer transfer window was Casemiro’s move to Manchester United. What began as an overlooked proposal from the Premier League side slowly grew into a possibility. Eventually, the Brazilian made the switch to England amidst heavy criticism.
From Real Madrid’s point of view, parting ways with the midfielder is difficult. The veteran carried the club’s defensive midfield for close to a decade and was a key component of all of Real Madrid’s successes.
Yet, this is the best departure the club could hope for. Los Blancos managed to recover €70 million for a 30-year-old player in a move that can not be considered a bad decision by any means. Moreover, Real Madrid already have a replacement in place for the veteran.
Luka Jovic: 8/10
Rating Jovic’s move away from the Bernabeu is a difficult task.
On the one hand, the Serbian international had no role in the team under Ancelotti. It was very clear from the first day that he did not have the quality to succeed at Real Madrid, and the statistics show it.
Last season, Jovic made only 15 appearances for the club, scoring one goal and providing three assists. Quite clearly, he was not the replacement to Benzema, the club are looking for, and an exit would suit all parties involved.
He eventually joined Fiorentina on a free transfer last month. While the move does clear space on the wage bill, one cannot help but think of the €60 million that Real Madrid spent on his transfer three years ago.
In conclusion, a vital departure that is relieving but could have been on better economic terms.
The Spanish star’s contract with Real Madrid expired in June, and he eventually joined Sevilla on a two-year deal.
Though Isco was a crucial part of Real Madrid’s setup under Zinedine Zidane, his career saw a sharp decline in the past two seasons. He saw barely any game time under Carlo Ancelotti, a clear message that his time at Real Madrid was over.
Once again, the club could have tried to sell him earlier and recover some monetary compensation. Nevertheless, a vital departure to clear the deadwood.
Gareth Bale: 9/10
The Welsh international was quite frankly inexistent in his final years at the club. Despite being on the bench, Bale was never called on to play, even in the direst of situations.
He will always remain a Real Madrid legend for his UCL-winning contributions, but his departure was long-awaited. He moved on a free transfer at the end of last season and is currently playing for LA Galaxy.
The Brazilian left-back and former captain of the club left Real Madrid after their UCL win over Liverpool. His presence on the left wing will be missed for years to come, but his departure was inevitable given his poor form and age.
Marcelo has not yet joined any new club, and it remains to be seen if he will announce his retirement in the coming months.
Atletico de Madrid
Nahuel Molina: 8/10
Since Kieran Trippier left Atletico Madrid to move to England, the team struggled to find an able replacement at right-back. Daniel Wass was signed as a potential solution, but it became quickly obvious that he was not the man for the job.
Enter Nahuel Molina. The Argentine right-back was signed by Los Rojiblancos for €16 million + Nehuen Perez last month and can rightly be called their marquee signing of the window.
Molina will be the undisputed starter at right-back this season. While he is solid in defence, one can expect many goal contributions from the wing-back given his promising record in the final third.
While he picked up a red card against Villarreal, Molina will eventually understand the responsibilities asked of him by Diego Simeone soon enough.
Axel Witsel: 8/10
The Belgian international was Los Rojiblancos’ first signing of the summer window, and perhaps the most well-known signing too. Over the years, Witsel has carved a name for himself as a solid defensive midfielder.
Simeone, though, has preferred to use the player as a centre-back, where he has looked refreshing.
Sergio Reguilon: 7.5/10
The former Real Madrid right-back joined Atletico in the closing days of the window and will serve as a deputy to new signing Nahuel Molina. He arrives on a one-year loan with no obligation to buy.
Renan Lodi: 4/10
Lodi’s future was a subject of discussion in the media throughout the transfer window. The 24-year-old was a major part of Simeone’s plans last season but saw his prominence reduce after the arrival of Reinildo.
His departure to Nottingham Forest did not come as a surprise, for the player was not very happy with his lack of playing time at Atletico. His deal with the Premier League side is a one-year loan with an option to make it permanent for €30 million.
Now, the club neither have a left-back as good as him nor are they guaranteed any money from his loan. Clearly, the deal is not amongst Atletico’s best decisions.
Daniel Wass: 9/10
The Danish international looked like a fish out of water since his first day at the club and never got going. It was in the club’s best interest to part ways with him.
Three talking points ahead of RCD Mallorca vs Real Madrid
Real Madrid have seldom struggled against RCD Mallorca in recent years. The men in white have scored a whopping 15 goals in their last four games against the Palma-based side and their last loss versus them came back in 2019.
If this season’s numbers are anything to go by, however, it would be wrong to overlook Javier Aguirre’s side. Mallorca have won seven of their nineteen La Liga games so far and sit in tenth place with 25 points.
While they have not scored a lot this campaign, they have conceded the fourth-least goals in the Spanish top flight and have an excellent defensive record.
Real Madrid play Mallorca before Barcelona’s game on Sunday and have a chance to reduce the deficit at the top of the table to two points temporarily if they can win at Son Moix.
Madrid Universal brings you three talking points ahead of Mallorca vs Real Madrid.
1. Tchouameni time again?
Aurelien Tchouameni spent close to a month on the sidelines after hobbling off injured in Real Madrid’s clash against Villarreal last month.
In the defensive midfielder’s absence, Carlo Ancelotti was forced to patch the void with unconventional options including Dani Ceballos, Eduardo Camavinga and Toni Kroos as the pivot.
The Frenchman finally made his awaited comeback to the squad in the team’s game against Valencia midweek. As he was returning from a relatively long time on the sidelines, Ancelotti preferred to have him start on the bench.
Tchouameni eventually entered the field in the 66th minute of the game when Toni Kroos asked to be substituted out for precaution. In his 24 minutes on the field, the youngster was almost flawless with 97% passes completed and 100% accurate long balls.
As Los Blancos gear up to play their second game in three days, the time could be right to re-incorporate the 23-year-old into the starting lineup. After all, Tchouameni has been one of Real Madrid’s most consistent players this season and it is glaringly clear that they have missed him in recent weeks.
2. Two more casualties
The men in white produced 90 minutes of high-quality football against Los Che on Thursday and reduced the gap with Barcelona to a mere five points. However, the cost of the win was far more than what the manager would have liked to pay.
In return for the three points, Real Madrid saw Karim Benzema and Eder Militao leave the field with injuries to rub salt into Ancelotti’s fresh wounds.
The captain is expected to miss the next two games at least, leaving his team once again without a central striker. In Benzema’s absence, Ancelotti will have to put on his thinking hat and field a forward line that not only creates threats but also has the cutting edge to convert them.
Militao is also unavailable for Sunday’s game. With the Brazilian centre-back ruled out, Real Madrid will likely field a combination of Antonio Rudiger and Nacho Fernandez against Mallorca. After all, David Alaba is also returning fresh from injury and might not be fit to start the game.
3. Can Camavinga convince again?
It is almost criminal that a club of Real Madrid’s stature do not have a natural backup for the left-back position.
Ferland Mendy has been Ancelotti’s most preferred position in the player throughout the season. David Alaba was seen as a possible backup option, and though the Austrian International is capable of playing that role, he does not fancy the left-back position anymore.
When Mendy limped off injured in Real Madrid’s game against Atletico Madrid, Eduardo Camavinga thus emerged as a surprise option to fill his shoes. The youngster started the next two games at left-back and did a reasonable job, even earning praise from the manager.
With Tchouameni back running for the Merengues, the left-back role is the only available vacancy for the French International to claim a starting spot.
With Alaba returning, if Camavinga wishes for continuity as a starter, he must produce another exceptional display on Sunday and stake claim as the left-back until Mendy returns.