In one of the shocking transfer moves of the past decade, Cristiano Ronaldo has left Real Madrid for Serie A giants Juventus in a £88m move.
Ronaldo leaves Real Madrid after a successful and trophy-laden nine years at the La Liga side where he scored 450 goals from 438 games including 44 hat-tricks.
It may be a surprise to know that in his nine seasons at the biggest club in the world, he has won only two La Liga titles. He has, however, won four Champions League titles at the Bernabeu, including in each of the last three seasons, becoming the first team to achieve that feat since Bayern Munich in 1976.
He may be 33, but he is still a key player in this Madrid side. He will be a massive loss, but here are five players who could replace him:
Neymar is the obsession of Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez, even though he tries to deny it and the Brazilian is his number one choice to replace Ronaldo.
Although a world-class player with undeniable talent, Neymar has not shown that he can provide the similar number of goals like Ronaldo but a commercial juggernaut himself, the merchandising value he brings can match that of the Portugal star.
But getting a player of such importance from Paris Saint-Germain is almost impossible. PSG don’t sell a player they want to keep, not to Real Madrid or Barcelona or any other club. So getting Neymar might be Sisyphean.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
There have been links in the past. He has made no secret of his interest in playing in Spain. He has been with the Blues for six years, but having seen them miss out on qualification for the Champions League last season, he may feel that it is time for him to move on from Stamford Bridge. You could argue that he hasn’t been given the opportunity to play with genuine world-class talent in England, and this is something he could get with Real.
He is 27 now; approaching the peak of his career. This would suit Real, as he would act as the natural replacement for Ronaldo out on that left-wing. Undoubtedly, the fee will be high, and if they do move for Hazard, it is likely that they will have to pay over £100 million for his services. But Hazard is a world-class player, and there aren’t many of them out there. If Real want a readymade replacement to Ronaldo, they won’t come much closer than Hazard.
Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
While Neymar is already a superstar in world football, Mbappe is in line to be the next one on the scene. The Frenchman is only 19 but has already proved himself to have all the attributes needed to go all the way to the top. He, like Neymar, has had just a single season with PSG, but on loan. This summer, the permanent move to the Parc des Princes will go through, as per the loan contract.
He is already a quality player, and will only get better as he gets older. He has scored 47 goals in the past two seasons and has shown the composure in front of goal. He has shown with his excellent performances at the World Cup, that he is capable of dealing with the immense pressure of the biggest stage, and that is something that will be attractive to Real.
Harry Kane (Tottenham)
One of the best strikers in world football for the last three years, Harry Kane is a proven goalscorer that can replace Ronaldo at Real Madrid.
He doesn’t in anyway match up to Ronaldo, but what he lacks in status and commercial value, he can provide with goals for Real Madrid.
Despite how difficult it is to get players from Tottenham, Perez has done business in the past with Spurs chief Daniel Levy and that relationship could be key here.
Marco Asensio (Real Madrid)
It is possible that Ronaldo’s replacement is already at Real Madrid. He will need to be an investment though. He is currently nowhere near the level that Ronaldo has been at in recent years, and it will take patience on Real’s part if he is to reach that level. However, we have seen in recent years that the hierarchy at the club aren’t exactly patient, and they will demand immediate success.
He is an exceptional talent though, and there is a reason that the likes of Liverpool have been linked with a move for the 22-year-old in recent weeks. He has only started 30 La Liga games for Real in his two seasons and has scored nine goals in those appearances. He demonstrated his skills perfectly in the Spanish Super Cup last year, scoring two sensational goals against Barcelona over the two legs, and Real will be hoping for more of that in the future.