Real Madrid take on Celta Vigo at the Bernabeu on Saturday and the game will take on huge significance for several high-profile players. The club has endured a disastrous season since legendary manager Zinedine Zidane walked out after winning a third straight Champions League title last summer.
Two managers have been appointed and sacked and now they have persuaded Zidane to take the reins once more and attempt to end the season on a high note. A huge summer clear out is on the cards for the club and several stars will be playing for their futures against Celta Vigo this weekend.
Julen Lopetegui lasted just a couple of months after replacing Zidane as Real embarked on a terrible start to the campaign. Santiago Solari was parachuted in, but he was axed after five months, following a tumultuous week.
Ajax knocked them out of the Champions League, Barcelona dumped them out of the Copa Del Rey and Barca also beat them in La Liga to open up a 12-point lead. A look at the odds on a top site such as BetOnline tells you that Real Madrid have no chance of winning a trophy this year and they must now rebuild for the future.
When Zidane quit last summer, he claimed it was time for someone else to take the club forward. Yet the press speculated that he was furious at the decision to sell Cristiano Ronaldo, particularly as Real Madrid kept hold of Gareth Bale. The Welshman has been the scapegoat for much of the team’s struggles this season, and he could well have to find a new club in the summer. Zidane will demand they sign Galacticos as they bid to conquer Europe once more and usurp Barcelona as the dominant domestic force, and they need to free up room on the wage bill.
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It has been a few years since Real Madrid signed a superstar. Everybody expected them to splash out last summer to replace Ronaldo, but they kept faith with the squad and it did not end well. They need to find more goals, more dynamism in attack and a fresh impetus in the squad.
They will be linked with all the big names, from Eden Hazard and Harry Kane to Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. These are the sort of players that Real Madrid are expected to sign. After all, this is a club that bought Zidane, Luis Figo, Ronaldo (the Brazilian one) and David Beckham in quick succession, and then signed Kaka, Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, before breaking the world record to sign Bale.
Since then PSG and Man Utd have broken that record and it is time for Real Madrid to reassert themselves in the transfer market. That means no player in the current squad is safe. Yet it could be good news for some stars.
Captain Sergio Ramos was poised to quit the club if they brought back another former manager, Jose Mourinho, as they do not get on, but now he could well remain in Madrid. Isco was frozen out by Solari, but he thrived under Zidane and could earn a reprieve. Marcelo has been agitating for a move to Juventus, but he too may now be persuaded to stay.
Man City are interested in Toni Kroos, and Luka Modric would have no shortage of suitors, so Real could launch a fire sale if they were so inclined. It will now be up to Zidane to cast his eye over the troops in their game against Celta Vigo before making any decisions.
Karim Benzema, Nacho, Marco Asensio and more are all in the firing line and it will be fascinating to see how they respond. Celta Vigo are in the relegation zone and fighting for their lives, so it is set up to be a fantastic contest, but Real players must deliver an emphatic victory.