Real Madrid Will Pay the Price for Their Lack of Signings This Summer

Zinedine Zidane
Real Madrid drew their opening game of the 2020/21 La Liga season 0-0 | Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

All (well, most of) the transfer talk involving Real Madrid in recent weeks has been dominated by the departure of one man. Yep, Gareth Bale.

Finally, Los Blancos opted to part ways with the Welshman and allow him to return to Tottenham on loan for the 2020/21 season. It's a move that simply benefits all parties, with Bale now having the chance to play regular first team football again under a manager who will place his trust in him.

But considering all the talk of Bale's departure, the sale of Sergio Reguilon (also to Spurs) has gone somewhat under the radar. Reguilon - who was deemed to be the best left-back in La Liga last season by many - has made no secret of his love for the club and his desire to succeed there. But Zinedine Zidane didn't have space for him as he already has Marcelo and Ferland Mendy at left-back.

Another high-profile departure this summer was James Rodriguez, who was an outcast in Spain before moving to Everton. The playmaker is now shining in the Premier League, showing Zidane what he was missing with each performance. Yet, despite his undoubted quality, it was the right decision to sell him.

But the club's decision to allow these players (and indeed others) to leave does highlight a broader and concerning problem regarding the transfer strategy at Madrid this summer.

James Rodríguez
James is shining at Everton | Visionhaus/Getty Images

They have made it clear that they will not be spending big, which is understandable as the realities of the coronavirus pandemic shouldn't simply be ignored. But the simple fact is that they have raised almost £100m this summer through player sales. But this is just the permanent deals. Then there's also the money made from loaning out a number of others...including Bale. Considering how much they have saved, fans will have been expecting the club to at least strengthen in one or two key areas.

The obvious area is defensive midfield as Zidane is keen to find a long-term successor to Casemiro. The likes of Eduardo Camavinga have been linked, but Real have shown no real interest in meeting any club's demands to land a target.

This unwillingness to strengthen the main areas, mixed with their arrogance to not replace any of the players they have sold or loaned out, has left them in a very vulnerable position for the 2020/21 season.

Casemiro, Marcelo
Zidane has been keen on a Casemiro backup for some time | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

There's no denying the depth in Real's squad, with players fighting over each position. But the departure of world class talents such as Bale or James leaves a gaping hole in the squad. You only need to look as far as Los Blancos' underwhelming display in the second leg of their last 16 Champions League clash with Manchester City last season to see how much they missed both players when they were frozen out.

A similar case can be made for Achraf Hakimi - another player who dreamt of succeeding at Real Madrid, only to be sold to raise funds this summer. Hakimi would have undoubtedly strengthened the squad, challenging Dani Carvajal for the right-back slot, as well as also having the qualities to play further up the pitch.

With the talent at Zidane's disposal, Madrid will likely be more than capable of challenging for La Liga by itself. But herein lies the problem, as this is Real Madrid - a club which expect greatness and the fans demand success in all competitions. But considering their outgoings and lack of signings, do they really have the necessary squad depth to challenge on all fronts and not risk burning out?

Zinedine Zidane
Zidane's men could struggle later in the 2020/21 campaign to fight on all fronts | Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

The answer at this stage is no, probably not.

Eden Hazard is slowly becoming the 'new Bale' in Madrid, with the Spanish press beginning to criticise him for his lack of desire to succeed at Real. The winger has been left out of the squad to face Real Betis on Saturday, potentially due to his lack of match fitness. He also missed the opening clash with Real Sociedad, with Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo starting instead on the wings.

But the absence of Marco Asensio meant that Zidane only had youngsters Sergio Arribas and Marvin Park (who is more of an attacking midfielder) to call upon to change the game.

Once again, this is Real Madrid we are talking about.

Sure, Los Blancos may not want to spend money this summer, but their current predicament should have forced them into doing so. With Bale out the door, Brahim Diaz shipped out on loan and Reinier Jesus and Take Kubo both also being loaned out (partially due to the fact they wouldn't have been able to play as Real would have gone over the limit for non-EU players), Real should be turning towards the transfer market.

Instead, this heir of arrogance and invincibility has left them in a slightly troubled position in the long run. Sure, Martin Odegaard has been recalled from his loan and he does fill a major void in the squad - but he simply isn't enough.

In the short term, Zidane's men could potentially make major strides forward with the current squad once the injured players return, starting strong in La Liga. But this could all change when the fixtures begin to come thick and fast.

Mikel Merino, Martin Odegaard
The return of Odegaard is not enough for Real Madrid this summer | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Not only have Madrid decided to offload a number of players this summer, they are also willingly choosing not to replace them. Such an approach will only backfire later in the season, and fans could witness their team being knocked out of the Champions League in similar fashion to the manner in which they were dumped out in 2019/20.

The club's decision to not invest heavily this summer was initially understandable. But having now offloaded a large number of players - some of whom were on hefty wages as well - fans will have expected some reinvestment at the very least.

Instead, however, their arrogance and unwillingness to spend so far could come back to haunt them later on in the season when Zidane's men are attempting to fight on multiple fronts.

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