Kaka's future, Ronaldo's role, the back four among Madrid questions
Last year, reaction to Real Madrid's decision to spend more than a quarter of a billion dollars, described by some as club president
One year later, the turnaround in perception is nearly 180 degrees. Pellegrini is gone -- perhaps treated a bit harshly, but that's life for managers at Real Madrid -- and in his place is one of the best in the business,
There are six new signings, five of whom are 23 or younger. They include teenager
Add it all up and the total summer outlay is roughly what was spent on Ronaldo last season. With so much youth and so much talent joining a team that last season crushed the rest of La Liga (notwithstanding Barcelona, which won the title by three points), it's hard to give Real's summer transfer campaign anything but an A-plus grade.
Hard, but not impossible. Because time will tell how things actually work out. And there are seven questions that will need to be answered:
A basic rule in the transfer market: Never buy players on the strength of a World Cup, because anybody can shine over seven games. At the end of last season, Khedira was a 23-year-old midfielder who had never started more than 24 games in the Bundesliga and had won just two German caps. Had it not been for injuries to
The obvious conclusion is that these are two very promising players who have yet to show they can produce to the required standard. The good news is that they have loads of potential and can mature into superstars. The bad news is that, as history shows, Real Madrid, given the pressures, isn't necessarily the best place for young footballers to develop.
The Brazilian playmaker had a difficult season at the Bernabeu, and now that he's sidelined after knee surgery, it looks as if Mourinho will put Ozil in the hole and hand him the keys to the team in the 4-2-3-1. That's fine, but when Kaka returns, decisions will have to be made. With Ronaldo and Di Maria seemingly locks out wide, one or the other is going to lose out (unless Mourinho plays Ronaldo as a center forward, something we're told he's reluctant to do). You can't really accommodate four guys of that quality plus a striker in the same team. Real has committed about $150 million to Kaka in wages and transfer fee. If he becomes a write-off, that would be the most expensive in history.
It's not just about buying, it's about selling too. Last year, Real off-loaded three Dutchmen --
Mourinho's 4-2-3-1 worked so well at Inter because Eto'o turned himself from a goal-scoring striker into an unselfish, hard-working winger. It was a credit to both the player for accepting the role and to Mourinho for pushing him to do it. The question is whether Mourinho can get Ronaldo to exhibit the same sacrifice and discipline. Eto'o's goal-scoring total dipped from 30 at Barcelona the year before to just 12 at Inter. Ronaldo had 26 last year in a free-flowing, unshackled front role. What happens if, say, by Christmas, he has scored just four or five? Managing egos has long been one of Mourinho's strengths, and he happens to have the same agent as Ronaldo,
There is little question that, in terms of star power, Madrid's defense lags behind the attack.
Madrid, of course, is the place where