We already know that this summer is going to be a weird one.
After years of watching teams throw money around like it was going out of fashion, the coronavirus outbreak has changed things for the foreseeable future.
The financial impact of the situation is going to impact teams across the globe – we’ve already seen Liverpool forced to accept defeat in their pursuit of Timo Werner – but even Real Madrid aren’t immune from the economic impact.
Los Blancos have spent the last few years landing big-money targets like Eden Hazard, Luka Jovi?, Thibaut Courtois and James Rodríguez, while there was even hope of a £100m move for Paul Pogba last summer.
This year, it’s going to be different.
There’s real talk coming out of Spain suggesting that Madrid might not bring in a single new face – something which has not happened at the Santiago Bernabéu since 1980.
Several generations of supporters will have no idea what it feels like not to make at least one signing, normally an expensive, recognisable one.
Should that end up being true, it would come as a real shock to the system, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
If you look at Zinedine Zidane’s current squad, there aren’t too many glaring weaknesses. There’s an exciting blend of youth and experience in almost every position, and that group has kept them in the race for the La Liga title and the Champions League. They’re in pretty good shape.
What should have Real fans excited is the fact that they’ve done all that without Hazard, who has barely even gotten started as a result of injuries. The Belgian will have plenty of time to get fit, and when he’s back to his best, he’ll feel like a new signing again.
The same can be said of Marco Asensio, who hasn’t even seen a minute of action after tearing his ACL in a pre-season game against Arsenal. That’s two ‘new’ faces already.
However, perhaps the biggest reason why Madrid don’t need to worry about having a quiet summer is the return of their plethora of outrageously talented loanees, many of whom are ready to step up into the first team.
Do Real Madrid need a younger right-back? Achraf Hakimi is on his way back from Borussia Dortmund. Álvaro Odriozola could even be an option.
How about creativity in midfield? Martin Ødegaard has been perhaps La Liga’s outstanding player this season (Lionel Messi aside) with Real Sociedad, and there’s even Óscar and Dani Ceballos to come back from Leganés and Arsenal respectively as well.
Someone at left-back to replace Marcelo and add competition for Ferland Mendy? Sergio Reguilón can come back from Sevilla to fill the void.
If you’re desperate for more, young Takefusa Kubo (once of Barcelona) has impressed with Real Mallorca, €35m Reiner is thriving in the club’s ‘Castilla’ B team, while Borja Mayoral (still only 23) could even cover in attack once he comes back from Levante.
There could be a whole new group at the Bernabeu next season, and the club wouldn’t have to spend a penny.
Hell, little used first-team trio Eder Militao (22), Jovic (22) and Brahim Diaz (20) all still have time on their side too.
It almost feels as though Los Blancos have been storing nuts for a situation like this for years.
Their young talent, which also includes current first-teamers like Vinícius Júnior (19), Rodrygo (19) and Federico Valverde (21), are all ready to lead this squad for years to come. All the pieces of the puzzle have come together at the best possible time.
By letting that young core grow together, Real will get stronger and stronger. They’re already good enough to compete for silverware, but they might soon be back to the days of three Champions League titles in a row if they play their cards right.
When you look around Europe, almost no team is as well-equipped to cope with a quiet summer as well as Zidane’s.
They will get through this just fine, and they might end up looking back at this summer as the turning point for the next decade’s golden generation.
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