The Champions League clash against Celtic brought with it a big blow for Carlo Ancelotti in the form of Karim Benzema’s injury. The Frenchman is expected to be out for at least three games, bringing up the question – who will replace him?
Prima facie, it would appear that Eden Hazard is Ancelotti’s first-choice backup for Benzema. However, the Belgian is not a centre-forward and cannot be a like-for-like replacement. Given the situation, Iker Bravo would appear to be the best natural alternative.
According to reports from MARCA, Los Blancos are clear with their plan with Bravo. The club will first wait for him to settle with the Castilla team and show his qualities. The door to the first team will only open if he impresses. At the moment, Ancelotti will not risk excessively exposing the youngster.
Real Madrid signed the 17-year-old from Bayer Leverkusen in August on a season-long loan deal. There is, however, a purchase clause of €6 million in the agreement.
He is a product of Barcelona’s famed La Masia and spent over a decade there before moving to Germany last year. Several clubs including Atletico Madrid were interested in his signing this summer, but Real Madrid beat their competition to win the race.
Bravo has made only one appearance for Real Madrid Castilla so far, coming on for the final 18 minutes against Racing Ferrol.
While he is yet to open his account in Spain, there is optimism over his quality and the management are convinced that he can replace Benzema in the long term. For now, though, he must make an impression under Raul Gonzalez before he can get a look-in into the senior setup.
Real Madrid veteran tipped to stay at club by ex-star: “His wish is to renew”
Real Madrid are in for a busy summer ahead. While the club are expected to undergo a massive squad overhaul, they are also facing pressure to renew the contracts of some of the most established players in the squad.
Luka Modric is among the list of veterans, who have their contracts expiring at the end of the season. At the age of 37, there has understandably been a layer of uncertainty over his future at Santiago Bernabeu, especially amid interest from Saudi Arabian entities.
The Saudi league has reportedly offered Modric the opportunity to join any club of his choice in the Middle East nation, with a two-and-a-half-year contract worth €40 million per season.
But in a recent media interaction, Predrag Mijatovic, former Real Madrid player and close friend of Modric, has backed the veteran Croat to continue at Santiago Bernabeu.
“When Luka Modric is well, Real Madrid plays much better. His wish is to renew one more year,” said Mijatovic (h/t El Larguero), who played for Real Madrid from 1996 to 1999, featuring in 118 competitive matches for the club.
Mijatovic’s comments confirm recent reports suggesting how Modric is leaning towards a prolonged stay at Bernabeu. It appears the ageing midfielder has no desire to accept the lucrative terms coming from Saudi Arabia just yet.
The former Tottenham star is confident of his abilities to continue at the highest level for at least another year before he can the next and final step in his career.
Since joining Real Madrid in 2012, Modric has featured in 462 competitive matches, racking up 36 goals and 74 assists. His contributions have been crucial to the club’s success over the past decade. Whether or not the midfielder is now willing to extend his stay for a further year remains to be seen.