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Real Madrid and the left-back dilemma: Who should they sell in the summer

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Photos via Getty Images

Real Madrid’s ideal transfer window during the upcoming summer would start with a move for Kylian Mbappe, who is set to leave PSG at the end of the season.

The Frenchman has already informed the Parisian giants about his decision, with coach Luis Enrique pretty much confirming the same by wishing him “all the best for the future” in a press conference.

Other than Mbappe, Real Madrid are also pursuing a move for Bayern Munich superstar Alphonso Davies. The left-back is set to become a free agent next year in 2025, and wants a much higher salary than he is on currently to renew with Bayern.

Madrid are ready to pay around €40-50 million for his signature, and have reportedly already agreed personal terms with the the player ahead of the summer.

Some reports have also stated that Madrid are considering bringing back Miguel Gutierrez for €8 million by activating his buy-back clause at Girona.

Gutierrez back soon? (Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)

There is no clarity about what the future might hold for him, though, with Bayern themselves interested in him to replace Davies.

There could be a time during the summer, though, where Madrid have four left-backs in their arsenal, including the aforementioned two in Davies and Gutierrez, but also Ferland Mendy and Fran Garcia, who are already a part of the team.

And ideally, all four players are starter quality for a lot of top teams in Europe, which means Madrid could be forced to offload at least two of them, but which ones should they be?

Finding balance

Right off the bat, selling Davies is out of the question. The Canadian is one of the best players in his position, and will obviously not be sold immediately after Madrid buy him — on a €10 million salary, as well.

The question, therefore, becomes finding the right balance between the rest of the three options and choosing one.

Mendy is the least offensive one of the three, but has the best defensive qualities. However, those can be replicated to a large extent by Davies, who is very well adept at tracking back and recovering the ball.

Fran Garcia and Miguel Gutierrez are more attacking options than Mendy, but in very different ways.

Garcia is an expert with his crosses from wide areas, particularly. He produces quite the loop form these positions, which makes it very difficult to defend against. His accuracy is also rather impressive with these, as he has already registered four assists this season.

On the other hand, Gutierrez is much more in the Marcelo mould. Girona have largely utilised him in an inverted role with enough freedom to overlap and underlap.

While crossing is not particularly his strong suit, his passing from tight areas is something to behold often. He is able to find players running behind the defence with his lobbed through balls and also changes the direction of the attack very well with his diagonals.

Neither of them are particularly defensively solid, though, or quite as quick as Mendy or Davies.

The verdict

With all three options quite solid, selling two of them becomes a rather mind-boggling task. However, with the current climate of football and the tactical changes that have arose in recent times, there is perhaps a correct answer here.

While Garcia and Mendy are both tremendous in their own right, Gutierrez’s ability to invert and provide numbers in midfield, to an extent make him a more useful asset.

Therefore, Madrid Universal’s verdict would be to sell Ferland Mendy and Fran Garcia.

He is also arguably the most creative of the quartet, and can also fill in as a right-back largely due to his ability to pass at most angles.

Mendy has been on the transfer list for a while now. (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Mendy’s problems also extend to his injuries concerns, which have caused concerns within the club for a while, now.

While tactically keeping Gutierrez probably makes the most sense, Real Madrid’s final decision could eventually come down to different reasons completely.

For example, Gutierrez may not be happy to fill in as Davies’ deputy after competing for the title in a starting role for most of this season.

Contrarily, Madrid could eventually decide to sell whichever one of the three that has the highest transfer value or most teams pursuing him — most likely to be Gutierrez.

Either way, the final decision will depend on the players themselves. Real Madrid have never stopped their assets from leaving the club and it seems unlikely that they will now, irrespective of how important they may be or may become.

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Features

Real Madrid 3-2 FC Barcelona – Player Ratings

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Still fatigued from their weary 120 minutes midweek against Manchester City, Real Madrid took on Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu earlier today in a fascinating clash.

Unlike the two previous games between the two sides this season, tonight’s Clasico was a very tight affair with both teams having their chances to steal the show. 

Andreas Christensen opened the scoring for Barcelona early in the night, giving the visitors the lead. A clean penalty conversion from Vinicius Jr, however, soon pulled one back for Los Blancos.

Fermin Lopez’s goal gave the Catalans the lead once more in the second period but the advantage was short-lived as Lucas Vazquez cut the deficit once more.

In the end, Jude Bellingham scored an injury-time winner for the men in white and Real Madrid got the result they required. The league title now appears written in their name.

Madrid Universal brings you the player ratings from El Clasico.

Andriy Lunin: 5

A relatively shaky night for the Ukrainian shot-stopper who never really looked confident with his saves. Was very poor in Andreas Christensen’s opener with his decision-making and came very close to conceding to a Lamine Yamal flick in the first half. 

Was directly at fault for the Blaugranas’ second goal of the night as he pushed the ball straight into the path of Fermin Lopez.

Lucas Vazquez: 10

A strong display from the Spanish full-back who once again showed that he is a potent force in the final third. Won the penalty for Real Madrid after some masterful trickery on the flank, setting up the team’s equaliser.

Found a stunning half-volley to stun Barcelona minutes after their second goal, levelling the scores once more. Was vital in the buildup for the team’s winner as well.

Sensational. (Photo by THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images)

Aurelien Tchouameni: 6.5

The French centre-back was presumably chosen for his prowess in the air but was nowhere to be seen when Christensen netted Barcelona’s opener. Was regularly poor in defending against set pieces, especially at the far post.

Antonio Rudiger: 7

The German centre-back led the team’s defensive unit but was also far from his best on the night. Did not make any glaring mistakes, but fatigue is likely to have impacted his influence.

Eduardo Camavinga: 6

The young phenom started the game well and was a lively presence in the final third. However, he soon began to struggle to keep up with Barcelona’s Lamine Yamal who began running havoc down the flank.

Was caught napping for Yamal’s cross that set up Barcelona’s second goal of the night and was dribbled past twice. Replaced by Fran Garcia at the 70-minute mark.

Federico Valverde: 7

Real Madrid’s midfield machine was undoubtedly fatigued on the night, yet came out at the team’s most valuable asset off the ball.

Completed seven defensive actions and 92% of his passes, executing his duties well.

Toni Kroos: 8

Sitting deep in the defensive midfield, Kroos was instrumental in holding the fortress for Real Madrid on the break. Silky smooth as ever with his distribution and creativity, combined with some no-nonsense defending.

Luka Modric: 8

Showing his quality. (Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images)

A good showing from the Croatian talisman who controlled the midfield alongside Kroos and Valverde throughout the first half. 

Jude Bellingham: 9

A much-improved performance from the Golden Boy who has been under scrutiny in recent weeks for his dip in form.

Bellingham was vital on the break for Real Madrid, dictating the attacking play of the team. He was immaculate with his passing range and completed 100% of his attempted dribbles.

Of all the Real Madrid players, Bellingham was likely the one who put in the biggest defensive shift when out of possession. Found the back of the net in emphatic fashion in the final minutes of the game to give his side the win.

Vinicius Jr: 8

Another Clasico goal. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)

Not the Brazilian phenom’s best night on the grasses of the Santiago Bernabeu as he struggled to conjure up much on the counters. Regardless, he scored a vital penalty and even came close to assisting Rodrygo twice in the first half.

Laid the ball on a platter for Lucas Vazquez, setting up the team’s second goal.

Rodrygo Goes: 7

While Rodrygo did not enjoy too much freedom in the final third either, his runs between the lines often created problems for the visitors. Yet, one felt Real Madrid should have capitalised more on the 23-year-old’s presence in the final third.

SUBSTITUTES

Brahim Diaz: 7

Brought life to Real Madrid’s counterattacks after coming on, although he did not really get into the game considering Los Blancos’ defence-heavy strategy.

Fran Garcia: 7

Did relatively well to defend against Yamal, and demonstrated more defensive awareness than Camavinga.

Eder Militao: NA

Came on too late to make a tangible impact.

Joselu: NA

Came on too late to make a tangible impact.

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