Transfer Talk: Real Madrid's summer so far
With the transfer window in full swing, ESPNFC's Real Madrid blogger Nicholas Rigg discusses how Carlo Ancelotti's side are shaping up ahead of the new season.
IN -- Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich, 24 million pounds), James Rodriguez (AS Monaco, 63 million pounds).
OUT -- Denis Cheryshev (Villarreal, loan), Nuri Sahin (Borussia Dortmund, seven million pounds), Alvaro Morata (Juventus, 15.8 million pounds), Casemiro (Porto, loan)
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President Florentino Perez usually gives his manager license to bring in who he wants to strengthen the squad and this summer should be no different, despite winning La Decima last season. In fact, Madrid's Champions League glory should only add to the funds that manager Carlo Ancelotti has to work with as he refuses to rest on the laurels of last season's successful first term at the helm.
The reports of departures for World Cup winner Sami Khedira and Angel di Maria will also swell the Bernabeu balance books with Los Merengues likely to receive in excess of 60 million pounds for the pair. Madrid have also bagged almost 16 million pounds from the sale of young striker Alvaro Morata to Juventus.
Rate your business so far
8/10 -- There's always room for improvement but with a squad packed full of world-class talent the margins at Real Madrid are thin.
The European champions do not require the wholesale changes that have been taking place at rivals Barcelona this summer but the business Los Blancos have done so far has been encouraging.
In Toni Kroos Carlo Ancelotti has arguably the best midfielder in the world on form at his disposal next season and he has not cost the earth. The ageing legs of Xabi Alonso, along with the learning curve youngster Asier Illarramendi is on and the probably departures of Angel di Maria and Sami Khedira make Kroos' arrival a timely one.
Another timely bit of business is that of Alvaro Morata's move to Italian champions Juventus. The 21-year-old's 15.8 million pounds switch to Juve was put on-hold following Antonio Conte's resignation as manager but the Turin club still went through with the deal last week. With a wealth of options in attack and more new additions possibly to come, Madrid did well to receive such an amount for a player who acted only as back-up to Karim Benzema last season.
Casemiro's loan move to Porto should give the Brazilian more time out on the pitch and the deal should be beneficial to all parties.
Who should be sold?
The big talking point is the future of legendary goalkeeper Iker Casillas. The Spanish international captain, or 'San Iker' as he's affectionately known by his adoring Madrid public, was restricted to only cup games last season but his match action may be even more limited this term if Los Blancos bring in a new stopper as expected. A big error in the Champions League final and horror-show performances for his country in Brazil have left even his biggest fans questioning his Bernabeu future. A move elsewhere would be beneficial for all parties.
Fabio Coentrao's future will again be up for discussion but his departure depends on any full-back arrivals. The Portuguese international looked destined for pastures new midway through last season but produced some strong performances in the absence of an injured Marcelo in the second half of the campaign, putting him very much in the thoughts of his manager for this season.
Alvaro Morata and Casemiro were two players who needed to move on and have. Both young players need to get more time on the pitch and should do at Juventus and Porto respectively.
Who should be signed?
A deal for Costa Rica international shot-stopper Keylor Navas looks all-but complete. Spanish reports suggest Madrid have paid a 10-million-pound release clause to his club Levante for the services of a man who helped his nation enjoy a fine World Cup this summer.
Los Blancos have been searching for a new regular No. 1 with Diego Lopez seemingly set for a move elsewhere ahead of the new season and Iker Casillas now failing to reach the heights that shot him to legendary status at the Bernabeu.
James Rodriguez, another star of the World Cup, has also secured his dream move to Madrid. The Colombian forward finished as the tournament's top-scorer in Brazil and his form has caught the attention of Los Blancos, who have reportedly paid more than 60 million pounds for his services.
James's countryman Falcao, a former Atletico Madrid player, had also been linked with a return to the Spanish capital in the all-white, but James had leapfrogged him in the wanted stakes.
Young Sevilla player Alberto Moreno had been linked with a move to the Bernabeu last season but Liverpool seem to have moved ahead in the chase for the left-back.
Problem solving: What do you need?
While a regular No. 1 for all competitions should be high up on the priority list of manager Carlo Ancelotti this summer, Madrid's few shortcomings came in the middle of the park last term, despite being blessed with an array of midfield talent.
The Italian spoke of a desire to keep hold of the ball more often as well as hit teams with his side's devastating counter-attack, so a cool, calm, collected and gifted midfield man is key.
Ivan Rakitic opted for Barcelona despite interest from Madrid's big two clubs but Los Blancos got a man who should fit the bill very nicely in Bayern Munich and Germany midfielder Toni Kroos.
There are few, if any, players in world football as good with the ball as the former Hansa Rostock man (and one will be his teammate next season in Xabi Alonso) and he will be able to orchestrate his team's play, as well as chip in defensively when needed, something he's improved following loan stint away from Bayern with Bayern Leverkusen, coupled with the better workrate instilled in him by Pep Guardiola.
Against big clubs such as Barca, Atleti and Munich, Madrid have sometimes been guilty of losing the midfield battle but that should not be the case this season.