Steve McManaman believes Real Madrid would be better off signing Kylian Mbappe rather than Neymar, but club president Florentino Perez would prefer to bring in the Brazilian star.
Ronaldo ended his decade-long affiliation with Madrid this summer, joining Juventus in a €100 million (£88m/$117m) deal.
Losing the five-time Ballon d’Or winner left many assuming Madrid would immediately buy someone to fill his shoes, with Neymar, Mbappe and Eden Hazard often touted as the potential replacements.
However, the European champions did not spend big on a stellar name, deciding to sign Mariano Diaz from Lyon instead, with the 25-year-old even taking Ronaldo’s old No.7 shirt .
Madrid will no doubt continue to be linked with the likes of Mbappe and Neymar, and McManaman feels the France World Cup winner would make more sense, although suggests Perez still has his eye on the Brazilian.
“If Neymar comes, the situation will be difficult, because he previously played for Barca. I know Florentino [Perez] really wanted him,” he told Goal.
“But when you need a reliable star figure for the next ten years, I think you have to bring in players like Mbappe. He’s only 19 years old and seems to be a rising star.
“If I had to choose, I would go with the the future, so I’d say Mbappe [as the ideal replacement for Ronaldo].”
For now, though, Madrid and head coach Julen Lopetegui will have to make do with what they’ve got, and McManaman is expecting Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema to step up in 2018-19.
“There will be players like Bale and Benzema, who will have a bigger role than in previous seasons,” he added. “And I think Bale looks to be a leader in the offensive side of things.
“The pressure will be much greater, but that’s the same for Benzema, Marco Asensio, and even Mariano.”
Despite not splashing the cash on a single big-name signing, Madrid did manage to bring in Diaz, former Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, and Alvaro Odriozola.
And McManaman believes the policy of spreading the cash across multiple areas of the team is a good idea.
He added: “Madrid are actually spending a lot of money this summer, but didn’t replace Ronaldo with a superstar. They brought in Courtois, brought back Mariano, and a promising young Brazilian [Vinicius Junior].
“I have no problem with the transfer policy. You can’t always spend money every season. Buying young players is an approach they are now using. You have to buy a young player, you have to make him a better player, and hope he can be a mainstay.
“To not buy megastars makes Madrid’s transfer activities seem passive. But that’s what they have done in recent years and remain champions. So I have no problem with the transfer policy.”