Real Madrid will be bringing in reinforcements in the forward department this summer, about that, there is no argument. Questions over how many, and what form they will take remain uncertain though.
With speculation growing over Karim Benzema’s future, there is a chance that by the beginning of July Los Blancos will have no natural number nines left in their squad, with Mariano Diaz set to depart – that said, youngster Alvaro Rodriguez will likely be promoted to the first team. He profiles as a third option through the middle next season though.
Fabrizio Romano has linked four forwards to the Santiago Bernabeu; Goncalo Ramos, Harry Kane, Dusan Vlahovic and Roberto Firmino. Those links come in addition to a number of reports from Spain saying that a deal for Joselu Mato is approaching. Here is what each forward would bring to the Bernabeu.
Goncalo Ramos – Benfica
After an outstanding cameo in the World Cup, Ramos has had a less sensational second half of the season with Benfica. That should not cloud the vision on what is one of the most promising forwards in the game though.
27 goals and 12 assists in 47 appearances is still a brilliant return rate, especially for a 21-year-old. Ramos would bring a classic number nine to Real Madrid, with good movement, pace, and technical ability. He appreciates space well, and his finishing is not in question.
As a young pretender, he would offer something different to Benzema and even complement him well. If Benzema departs, he would be a bold bet for the starting job, being so early in his career. While he no doubt deals with deeper defences in Portugal, asking him to do so for Real Madrid next season might be a bit much – also likely to cost a good amount.
Joselu Mato – Espanyol
Reportedly the closest to happening, Joselu looks like a perfect back-up to Benzema. A target man with good hold-up play, he has can link play well, and is a natural poacher in the box. At 33, he is in his prime but won’t demand game time, and is returning to a place he knows well, having come through at Castilla.
Scoring 16 goals in La Liga this season, just two less than Benzema, he will likely feast on the service he has. Perhaps there might be a process of adaptation though too. Los Blancos would need to ensure they play to his strengths when he is on the pitch, and Joselu would need to try and act as the wall for Rodrygo Goes and Vinicius Junior at times in tight spaces. Cheap too, available on loan for free.
Harry Kane – Tottenham Hotspur
Undoubtedly the priciest of the lot, but also the only realistic option to replace Benzema properly if he does leave. The two are unlikely to be able to coexist.
That is in part because they share so much in common. While both are primarily goalscorers, both have spent time acting as providers too. Kane can drop deeper like Benzema, and has plenty of range to his game. The England captain is also used to combining with pacy wide forwards and releasing them to get in behind. In terms of fit, Los Blancos will find few better.
Where there are doubts, are his price tag and age. Due to turn 30 this summer, Kane would cost what they tend to spend on Galactico signings, and already it looks as if Jude Bellingham is lined up. The fact he would have little resale value contradicts Real Madrid’s recent transfer strategy too.
Dusan Vlahovic – Juventus
Perhaps the riskiest option of the lot. Like Ramos, he will command a lofty price on the market, and has already shown signs of struggling at a bigger club.
Vlahovic is undoubtedly talented, and natural born finisher. It seems most likely that he will go on to become one of the best in Europe. That works in his favour, but there is also little comparison with Benzema in terms of hold-up play or style. That Vlahovic didn’t start for Juventus against Sevilla in the Europa League semi-final, would suggest he isn’t ready for the main job.
He could work out as an excellent bench option initially, before growing into it. Being more of penalty box striker, and a threat in behind, there will be a concern at the Bernabeu that he could go the same way as his compatriot Luka Jovic – incidentally his replacement at Fiorentina.
Roberto Firmino – Liverpool
Available as a free agent, he ticks that box for Florentino Perez. Firmino is just 31 and has a few good years of football left in him. However the only way this makes sense is if it is as a back-up to Benzema.
The Brazilian is versatile enough to play with Benzema or even wider at times, and like the Frenchman has a reputation as a provider as much as a goalscorer. Benzema used to be criticised for several years at the Bernabeu for only scoring 10-15 goals per season in La Liga, and Firmino has only passed the 15-goal mark twice in his career in league competition, most recently in 2018.
Blessed with an excellent appreciation of space, a good touch and with an unselfish work-rate, he has plenty of useful attributes to Real Madrid.
Firmino could well prove to be an excellent complement to Benzema as part of a Real Madrid squad, but like at Liverpool, should no longer be considered as a starting option through the middle.
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