Euro 2020 Special

La Liga: Is ‘Galactico’ Era Nearing an End?

For a few decades now, Real Madrid have had a reputation in the La Liga as a club which gets what it wants: whether through smart acquisition, throwing obscene amounts of money at a player or what has often been referred to as ‘bullying tactics’, measures designed to unsettle the transfer targets and/or selling club.

The ‘Galactico’ era was the proof of that. The time where Madrid signed star after star, even if it meant weakening the equilibrium and general morale of their own squad.

Take 2003 for example, the year the club signed David Beckham but decided to let Fernando Hierro and Claude Makelele leave.

The following season was a mitigated disaster.

Yet when you recruit the likes of Louis Figo and Zinedine Zidane there is bound to be major success and no club enjoys making a major statement to the football world than Real Madrid.

Cast your mind back 12 years ago when the club twice broke the bank in the light of Barcelona’s domination by signing Kaka and most famously of all, Cristiano Ronaldo in a matter of weeks.

Since then, there has been Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard, and who knows who will be next.

Real Madrid player Eden Hazard needs to get back in his prolific form in La Liga
Eden Hazard has yet to excel for Real Madrid in La Liga

Certainly, there needs to be something.

This Real side is ageing in key areas with the likes of skipper Sergio Ramos, Toni Kroos, Karim Benzema and Luka Modrić all approaching the twilight of their magnificent careers.

Lately, Kroos (30) and Modric (34) have been criticised for only influencing games sporadically, Bale (30) for being too inconsistent when selected, and Ramos (33) for displaying too much indiscipline when the going gets tough, as well as a general assessment of little defensive solidity and not enough ruthlessness in attack.

There is also the issue of bedding-in players that manager Zinedine Zidane has signed.

Younger players such as Rodrygo, Theo Hernandez, and Luka Jovic.

Jovic was one of Real’s marquee signings last summer, costing 60 million Euros from Eintracht Frankfurt, but has scored just two goals in all competitions this term.

Amid struggles for form, he also appeared to land himself in hot water when he allegedly ignored coronavirus guidelines after flying home to Serbia a few weeks ago.

That said, he has been limited to a bit-part role under Zidane and so perhaps that lack of regular football and absence of a prominent role has had a negative impact on his game.

Will the likes of these players be given more headway from the summer onwards or has the French manager got his eye on some more big-money star names?

Paul Pogba is certainly on the radar if reports are to be believed, although Madrid would be foolish to think that despite a season out of the team, Manchester United would give into the player or his agent’s reported demands and let him go on the cheap.

Can Madrid even afford a player who despite his inconsistency should cost at least £130-million in the current market? There must be ‘significant doubts’ that most clubs could finance such a deal, in addition to the player’s reported £300,000-a-week salary demands.

Pogba has been heavily linked with a move away from Old Trafford in the last 12 months, with his agent Mino Raiola fuelling exit rumours.

Then there are others.

Real and archrivals Barcelona have been linked with Bayern Munich left-back David Alaba. The Austrian’s contract in Bavaria ends next year and he has not yet renewed with the German club.

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane is increasingly been linked with a summer move to the Bernabeu, while there are renewed reports that the club will also make an attempt to sign Jadon Sancho or his Borussia Dortmund team-mate Erling Braut Haaland – a player who has been in sensational form since a January move to the Bundesliga from Austrian outfit Red Bull Salzburg.

There’s also another striker link with Spanish outlet AS saying Zidane is an admirer of Wolves’ number nine, Raul Jimenez.

Jimenez, who previously played in Madrid for Real’s city rivals Atletico, has scored 22 times in 44 appearances in all competitions this term.

The 28-year-old is apparently seen as the ideal man to ease the workload on long-serving Real centre forward Benzema.

Yet perhaps the best deals are still to come in players who could return to the Spanish capital.

Fabian Ruiz, the 23 year-old Spanish midfielder who transferred from Real Betis to Napoli in 2018, has consistently performed as one of the best midfielders in Serie A. The powerful, athletic, yet elegant player has been a staple in Spain’s midfield and would be a natural acquisition for Real.

Meanwhile, Achraf Hakimi could return as the Moroccan — who has spent nearly two years on loan at Dortmund — is expected to sign a new five-year deal with the club.

Zidane has told the player that he will be very important and insisted on his return.

Surely that means he’s on his way back.

Perhaps the ‘Galactico’ era is drawing to a close, after all?




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