Real Madrid may have advanced at the expense of Paris Saint Germain in the knockout stage of the Champions League, but Los Blancos' season and Zinedine Zidane’s job are still in danger.
Despite lifting the historic trophy back to back and snaring La Liga from the grasps of rivals Barcelona last year, the Spanish giants have failed to replicate similar form this season. With Cristiano Ronaldo struggling for goals early on and Gareth Bale forever on the side-lines, Real Madrid needed the same defensive resilience that made Zidane such a hit.
Casemiro has not been on his game so far, venturing too far forwards while getting in the referee’s book too often. With that in mind, a fresh pair of legs and greater tactical protection is needed to stop leaking in goals in La Liga, having let in more than a goal a game so far, with 27 conceded.
Here’s the pick of the bunch to sit behind Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.
8. Moussa Dembele
Finally earning the plaudits since his move across London to Tottenham in 2012, the Belgian star has improved continuously for the Lilywhites.
So strong driving with the ball at his feet and a great retainer of possession, his authority in midfield would keep the ball away from Madrid's porous defence.
7. Paul Pogba
An outside shot but considering the friction that has been building between boss Mourinho and Pogba, who has been played frequently out of his favoured position, this makes more sense than you'd think.
Linking up with Zidane could be a dream move for the ex-Juventus star.
6. Steven N'Zonzi
Another player entering the twilight of his career, the former Blackburn and Stoke man has excelled at Sevilla. Impressing in both the Champions League and La Liga, N’Zonzi has been keen for a move away from the Andalusian club for some time.
With that lanky stride, he covers a lot of the ground in a nonchalant way similar to Patrick Vieira.
5. Nemanja Matic
Real Madrid should have gone for the cultured left footed holding midfielder last summer. At 29, the Serbian brings a calm presence to any side and would be a fine fit for Los Blancos.
Tidy on the ball, strong in the tackle and good in the air, Matic would bring balance to a very attack-minded side.
4. Arturo Vidal
For pure tenacity, Chilean superstar Vidal would be a solid addition in the Spanish capital. Although he is now 30, the experienced box-to-box midfielder would add steel in front of the defence.
A leader and tireless runner is needed for Los Blancos this season after a number of shrinking performances.
3. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic
Known not just for his strength but also his flair on the ball, the Serbia international would fit in well at the Santiago Bernabeu.
2. Emre Can
Considering he would be a free transfer, the Spanish champions could do a lot worse than the German powerhouse.
Linking up with fellow international Kroos and using his imposing presence in the centre of the park could be a fantastic bargain option for Los Merengues.
1. N’Golo Kante
Should Zidane avoid the chopping board and keep his job, the Frenchmen might decide his compatriot could do the job in midfield.
Quick in the tackle and usually playing two positions at once such is his energy, Real Madrid may move for the 26-year-old, who could leave if Antonio Conte is sacked.