While the club insist they were not in the market for new signings, at least three talents could have bolstered them for the second half of the season
The gates at the Santiago Bernabeu remained firmly closed to new arrivals throughout January. The punishment handed down by FIFA for the irregular signing of under-age players kept Real Madrid out of the transfer window, although the feeling inside the club was that they “got off lightly”.
But while Madrid were not planning big raids in the transfer market this winter, at least one big target slipped through their fingers due to the sanction.
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Alexander Isak had long been followed by the Merengue, after bursting onto the scene in his native Sweden. Borussia Dortmund, however, will enjoy the teenager’s services, as the Germans swooped to sign AIK Solna’s wonderkid. Isak would otherwise have had to wait until June to move to a top European club, a delay that he was not prepared to countenance and which tipped the balance in favour of Thomas Tuchel’s side.
That is not the end of the German connection. Julian Draxler is another favourite at the Santiago Bernabeu, but when he finally made the long-anticipated move away from Wolfsburg, Madrid were left powerless. The Germany international will line up at Paris Saint-Germain now, and if Zinedine Zidane hoped to see the attacker join his ranks the transfer ban meant he was bound to be frustrated.
There are few positions in which the fabulously deep Real Madrid squad can be considered weak. One of them, however, is on the left side of defence.
Marcelo has few equals in world football, and possesses a valid claim to the title of best left-back on the planet. But behind him the list of pretenders is dangerously thin, and the Brazilian has missed key stretches of recent seasons with niggling injuries. Only Fabio Encontrao, whose inclusion in Madrid’s plans now comes as a surprise even to him, is left to cover a vital post in the Merengue backline.
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Could Patrice Evra have been the answer to that conundrum? The ex-Manchester United man has the experience and quality necessary to play a part in the Liga giant’s plans, and also knows Zidane well having shared national team duties with the coach. With Madrid players dropping like flies to injury and the club continuing to fight for silverware on two fronts, the 35-year-old defender would have been a solid acquisition.
Zizou, however, will instead watch his former team-mate line up in his old backyard, Marseille, after the French club swooped to complete a free transfer from Juventus that could prove one of the buys of the window. On an 18-month contract Evra represents an almost risk-free signing for l’OM; and the veteran, along with Draxler and Isak, form a trio of players that escaped the Blancos’ grasp as they served out a month’s transfer exile.