Zidane’s Real Madrid currently sit atop of the La Liga table but the Royal Whites have been far from impressive and are keen to add to their squad during the winter break.
La Liga has had an interesting start to the 2019-20 campaign. Two months into the league campaign, Real Madrid head the pack into the second international break. But any Madridista will testify to the fact that the performances have been far from convincing. Los Blancos have enjoyed contrasting fortunes in the league and the Champions League. The inconsistency is not what Zinedine Zidane would be pleased with. The Frenchman is looking to bolster the midfielder to iron out the wrinkles according to the recent reports.
The shiny new toy?
The Spanish media have revealed that Florentino Perez might get his checkbook out this January. According to Don Balon, the talks between the Spanish giants and Ajax for Donny van de Beek are at a “very advanced” stage. President Florentino Pérez and Managing Director Jose Angel Sanchez met their Ajax counterparts and may have an agreement close to €70m. The Royal Whites pursued the Dutchman during the summer and are set to get their man after the turn of 2020.
The Midfield Problem
Anyone who has watched Real Madrid this season will agree with the fact that the midfield has been an area of concern. The Kroos-Modric-Casemiro combination is not the same as it was during Zidane’s first stint.
Modric has been on the decline since claiming the Ballon d’Or a year ago. The team cannot rely on the Croatian to progress the ball and create chances. Kroos has essentially become a luxury player. Real’s No.8 has put up impressive numbers but is a liability, in defense.
With Casemiro left on his one to protect the defense, Madrid has conceded high-quality chances in games. Taking expected goals for (xG) and expected goals against (xGA) and reconstructing the La Liga table pulls Real Madrid down to third, behind Villareal and Atletico Madrid.
Zidane’s men have shipped in 8 goals in the league this season which tallies up to a goal a game. [Only Atletico Madrid, Athletic Club(4) and Osasuna (7) have conceded less]. But the shots they face are often high-quality ones. Out of all the shot Real let the opposition take, almost 73% (72.58%) are from within the box. In comparison, the corresponding number for Atletico Madrid is around 54% and Barcelona is around 55%. This suggests a lack of central defensive structure and it needs to be addressed if the club has any aspirations for the season.
Donny Van de Beek is more of a midfielder who links attacks. The 22-year-old is adept at finding spaces in the final third. As Pochettino once said, “Van de Beek. Nobody talks much about him. But he has a dynamic in the game, he gets behind Tadić, he arrives, he works, he scores goals.” If Real Madrid are looking to sure up the defensive side of the squad, he is not their man as illustrated by the graphic below.
Los Blancos should save up the €70m and look for someone to slot in alongside Casemiro. The club has the firepower in Benzema, Bale, Hazard, James, Vinicius to score enough goals. Now, they must look to fix their leaky defense if they expect to hold off their fellow Spanis clubs for the La Liga crown.