Real Madrid forward Borja Mayoral is set to play an important role for the reigning European champions this season after reportedly convincing new coach Julen Lopetegui that he is worthy of being the club's understudy 'number nine'.
Home grown Mayoral, who spent 2016/17 on loan at Wolfsburg where he scored three goals in 19 appearances, has only played 30 first team games for Real since he made his debut in 2015.
But with Cristiano Ronaldo gone and Real now not likely to sign a new superstar forward this summer, a report from AS has revealed that Mayoral will, in principle, be a first alternative to Karim Benzema over the course of the upcoming campaign.
The 21-year-old played in 14 games in La Liga last season, starting only three of them. But given that Benzema has only once managed more than 29 leagues games in a single season since 2014, more opportunities are sure to come his way if he is patient and ready to take them.
With the Galacticos transfer policy retired after 2014, Real refuse to pay extortionate fees in excess of €100m for the likes of Harry Kane, Robert Lewandowski and Edinson Cavani, or other attacking players like Eden Hazard, Neymar or Kylian Mbappe.
Lopetegui has already declared that he is 'happy' with his Real squad as it sits and expects Gareth Bale to step up to fill the enormous void left by Ronaldo, with chances for other players to stake their claims for places as well.
23-year-old Raul de Tomas, who scored 24 goals on loan with Rayo Vallecano in the Spanish second tier last season, could also benefit.
His future appears less clear than Mayoral, however, and AS notes that Real feel he needs more top flight experience before he deserves a permanent place in the squad.