Real Madrid were looking to make a statement signing after the departure of Karim Benzema in the summer of 2022.
Most expected that superstar to come in the form of a striker, but Madrid refused to delve deeper into their budget after signing Jude Bellingham in the same window for €100 million.
And while Madrid do not have financial problems like Barcelona, Florentino Perez is carefully picking and choosing his money battles, especially with all the cash that has gone towards renovating the Santiago Bernabeu.
Therefore, Madrid want to sell players before signing replacements, and are especially concerned about several positions in defence, and more specifically the fullbacks.
Currently, los blancos have a 31-year-old Daniel Carvajal starting at right-back, with 33-year-old Lucas Vazquez as his replacement. Nacho, at 33, has also been covering those positions, but is likely playing his last season with the Spanish capital outfit.
While age is definitely a concern, Madrid are not particularly worried about any of their performances barring a certain Ferland Mendy. The Frenchman has been continually picking injuries and underperforming to the point the club want to get rid of him now.
According to a report by Mario Cortegana (h/t MadridXtra), Madrid will try and sell Mendy next summer.
Target: Alphonso Davies
While Fran Garcia has done a more than able job at left-back this season after re-signing for this boyhood club, assisting three goals in ten games, Madrid seem to have made it a point to sign Alphonso Davies in the summer.
The Bayern Munich star is out of a contract in 2025, and does not look too keen to renew at the Allianz Arena. He could be available at a slashed price in the summer of 2024.
Garcia, meanwhile, is expected to serve as his deputy if the transfer goes through.
Who is interested in Mendy?
Unfortunately for Real Madrid, there are not too many clubs keen on signing Mendy. There was some interest from Saudi Arabia over the past summer, but a move did not transpire eventually.
Carlo Ancelotti, meanwhile, has full faith in the 28-year-old, which is evident in his lineup selection whenever he is available to play.
Official: Real Madrid starting lineup against Napoli | UCL GW 5
Real Madrid are back in the Champions League following their impressive win against Cadiz on the weekend as they host Napoli at the Santiago Bernabeu for gameweek five.
They have already secured qualification to the round of 16, and even a point today would secure first place in the group.
With several players still injured, Carlo Ancelotti has opted for his best available starting lineup, with Daniel Carvajal taking responsibility of the captain’s armband at right-back. He will be aided by Ferland Mendy, who starts on the other side.
Meanwhile, in between them, David Alaba returns to the fold as the starting centre-back, partnering Antonio Rudiger. This duo has the responsibility of screening Andriy Lunin, who continues in goal in Kepa and Thibaut Courtois’ absence.
With both Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni out, Toni Kroos gets the chance to play as the holding midfielder for two games in a row. Federico Valverde retains his spot, as well, while Dani Ceballos comes in for the injured Luka Modric in central midfield.
Rodrygo will spearhead the team’s frontline as one of the two twin forwards, while Brahim Diaz gets the nod over Joselu. Jude Bellingham is the final, and arguably the most important piece of the puzzle, playing behind the front-two.
Confirmed Madrid XI: Lunin; Carvajal, Rudiger, Alaba, Mendy; Valverde, Kroos, Ceballos; Bellingham; Diaz, Rodrygo