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Three player dilemmas that Ancelotti will face at Real Madrid next season

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Photo by THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images

Come tomorrow night, Real Madrid could be the champions of Europe in addition to the champions of Spain that they already have been crowned.

Heading into next season, however, it has now been clarified that change is inevitable. The departure of Toni Kroos and some big arrivals will force Carlo Ancelotti into some difficult decisions which could potentially compromise his existing setup.

Right from goal where Thibaut Courtois will return as a bonafide starter to the final third where Kylian Mbappe and Endrick are set to arrive, Los Blancos will boast changes in every department.

Here is a breakdown of three major player dilemmas the manager could thus face some the 2024-25 campaign.

Eder Militao or David Alaba?

One year ago, the Eder Militao-David Alaba combination was Carlo Ancelotti’s go-to option in central defence but a lot has changed over the past ten months or so.

Who will lose their spot next season? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)

The Brazilian star’s ACL injury early in the campaign ruled him out of action for close to eight months, allowing Antonio Rudiger a golden chance to prove his worth.

Over the months that followed, the German defender established himself as one of the most reliable players in the team and is now an undisputed starter.

Alaba’s ACL tear later in the campaign only made Rudiger shoulder more responsibility, and he proved that he is capable of handling the pressure.

Heading into next season, Ancelotti thus finds himself in a strange dilemma of who to partner alongside Rudiger in central defence.

Both Militao and Alaba are coming off gruesome ACL injuries that take a lot away from a professional footballer. The Brazilian has even made his return to action but has not been convincing with his performances so far.

Alaba, meanwhile, is still far off from stepping on the grass and will likely miss pre-season as well. Once back, he could see a similar dip in form as has been the case with Militao.

It will thus be interesting to see which option Ancelotti prefers to rely on next season, especially with talks of Militao’s sale also going around.

Eduardo Camavinga

The high competition in Real Madrid’s midfield this season was only counter-balanced by the allocation of an extra starting spot to the department in Carlo Ancelotti’s 4-4-2 diamond setup.

How will Camavinga fit in next season? (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

Toni Kroos’ departure next season will indeed clear one name from the long list of candidates, leaving Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni, Federico Valverde, Jude Bellingham, Brahim Diaz, Arda Guler and Luka Modric in contention.

The bad news, however, is that a formation change is expected with Kylian Mbappe’s arrival. The shift to a 4-3-3 will reduce the placed up for grabs in midfield and Camavinga could well be the player to bear the brunt.

Carlo Ancelotti has made it clear with his selections that Aurelien Tchouameni is his first-choice pivot while Federico Valverde and Jude Bellingham sit above Camavinga on the pecking order for the remaining two spots.

If indeed three spots are reserved for forwards, the former Rennes star will not have a place in Real Madrid’s starting lineup.

Ancelotti insisted in a recent interview that he eyes Camavinga to be his replacement for Toni Kroos, but finding a place for the youngster in the 4-3-3 will not be a bed of roses for the manager.

Rodrygo

How will Ancelotti fit Rodrygo in the team? (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Rodrygo’s place in Real Madrid simply depends on the formation the manager opts to deploy next season.

Should Ancelotti persist with a 4-4-2, the young Brazilian simply has little hope of finding a place for himself. After all, Kylian Mbappe and Vinicius Jr will be the two bonafide starters in attack.

In case the coach selects a 4-3-3 going forward, Rodrygo can hope for the third spot in attack. Even then, however, the situation will not be one to the player’s liking.

The 23-year-old superstar best operates down the left flank, but his compatriot will be above him in the pecking order for that position.

With Mbappe likely to play down the centre, Rodrygo’s only option will be to start on the right, a position in which he has not excelled in recent times. It is a problem for the manager to solve. The repercussions of the same could directly impact his place in the team.

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Features

Five players who will be fixed starters for Real Madrid next season

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Following a successful campaign, Real Madrid are poised for significant changes in their roster due to a combination of player arrivals and departures.

The responsibility of blending new faces with established stars will fall to coach Carlo Ancelotti and his staff as they aim to maintain the club’s competitive edge domestically and in Europe.

And to predict the team’s probable strategy and performance amidst these changes, it is imperative to identify the key players who will be constant starters.

Kylian Mbappe

The new talisman. (Photo by ROMAIN PERROCHEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

With Real Madrid no longer viewing Mbappe through rose-tinted lenses and finally being able to dress him in the royal white jersey, the Frenchman is expected to be one of the first names on the team sheet.

Owing to his instinctive nature to find the back of the net, he is poised to be paired alongside Vinicius Jr. in attack.

Last season, the 2018 World Cup winner scored a whopping 44 goals in all competitions. Thus Real Madrid will be banking heavily on Mbappe’s ability to ask questions of opposition defenders in the final third.

It is being said that Mbappe is all set to wear the iconic number 9 jersey at Real Madrid, which is indicative of the role he will play, as a focal striker.

Vinicius Jr.

The main man at Real Madrid. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The Brazilian is in pole position to win the Ballon d’Or this year, and looking back on his season with Real Madrid, it is easy to see why.

Despite losing Karim Benzema, his usual partner in crime over the past few years, Vinicius performed remarkably well in Ancelotti’s new system.

Relentlessly taking on defenders, arriving into space, scoring goals, and stepping up in the biggest of moments, he was one of Real Madrid’s major lynchpins throughout the season as they lifted a historic double.

Vinicius impressively racked up 24 goals last season, and given his importance to the team, the likelihood of him not maintaining a starting role next season is nearly nonexistent.

Jude Bellingham

Real Madrid Fans’ Player of the Season. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Defying all expectations in his debut season, Jude Bellingham established himself as a key player for Real Madrid, demonstrating exceptional versatility, and maturity far beyond his years.

Although the Englishman’s performances wavered in the final stretch of the season, Bellingham’s contributions ensured Los Blancos were able to compete in the Champions League and especially La Liga.

In addition to scoring 23 goals in all competitions, he has constantly been a beacon of reliability in midfield and has proven to be the voice of reason on the pitch.

There have been murmurs about Bellingham potentially being berthed deeper next season as Real Madrid intends to use him as Kroos’ replacement. However, given his versatility, he is expected to be a crucial player wherever he plays.

Antonio Rudiger

A mainstay at the back. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Rudiger is one of the major reasons Real Madrid managed to successfully disguise their injury crisis. Despite players falling like dominos in the back-line, the German stood resolutely as a dependable figure for most of the campaign, arguably enjoying one of his best seasons.

Expertly anticipating opposition strikers’ movements, he leaps forward to thwart attacks before they begin. Moreover, thanks to his large stature and incredible recovery pace, he is able to cover distances behind.

Reports have mentioned that Carlo Ancelotti views him as a crucial component of the squad and potential arrivals, such as those of Leny Yoro and Rafa Marin, in the back-line are unlikely to devalue his presence.

Thibaut Courtois

Back like he was never gone. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

In spite of spending more than half of the campaign on the sidelines recovering from an ACL and MCL injury, Courtois is worth his weight in gold for Real Madrid.

He performed admirably in the final few games of the season and did no wrong against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League final.

While Andriy Lunin made up for his absence with flying colours, he is placed below Courtois in the pecking order for now, which also has made the Ukrainian lean towards an exit.

The fact that Lunin, after his sublime season, stands no chance of dethroning Courtois between the sticks is a testament to how much the club appreciates the Belgian. Even at the age of 32, the Belgian keeper is anticipated to retain an important role in the team.

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