Real Madrid are living a fine moment. They enjoyed a surprisingly impressive 2021/22 campaign, winning La Liga by 13 points and beating Liverpool to lift their 14th Champions League title in Paris. And they have not rested on their laurels since.
Madrid have recruited Antonio Rüdiger on a free transfer from Chelsea and then spent €80m to sign Aurélien Tchouaméni from Monaco. Many think they have what it takes to repeat the feat in 2023 and are backing their hunch, and intuition, using sites like Bettingpicks4You. Rüdiger is a market opportunity brought about by the German’s expiring contract at Stamford Bridge while Tchouaméni is a targeted move to bolster what was an already-strong midfield. Both will play a part in any continued success.
They improve the team and send a message – Madrid are still a force to be reckoned with on and off the pitch. There was an emotional need to make a big move in the transfer market this close-season following Kylian Mbappé’s snub – the Frenchman’s decision to stay at Paris Saint-Germain rather than come to the Santiago Bernabéu was a public slap in the face. Bringing in players as experienced as Rüdiger and as promising as Tchouaméni is excellent business and fills that need.
How Carlo Ancelotti is going to compose his defence in light of Rüdiger’s arrival is anyone’s guess. Madrid wouldn’t have signed a player of his calibre – and salary – unless he was going to play an important role but in Éder Militão and David Alaba they already have two of the most talented defenders in Europe. A likely solution could be having Alaba switch to left-back to accommodate Rüdiger alongside Militão, although given their profiles it seems that the best solution would be to start Rüdiger with Alaba.
Trying to understand the role that Tchouaméni is going to play at the Santiago Bernabéu is also interesting. He completes a formidable six-man midfield alongside Luka Modrić, Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Eduardo Camavinga and Fede Valverde – provided Dani Ceballos, as expected, departs the Spanish capital this summer. The likeliest solution is that Ancelotti rotates his midfield over the course of the season, paying heed to the advancing years of the gilded midfield triumvirate of Modrić, Casemiro and Kroos.
But that’s a pretty great problem to have. It’s still early in the summer and so a lot of business is yet to be done, especially by Barcelona. But you would be hard-pressed to find many sane-minded neutral observers who genuinely believe that Madrid are going to be seriously challenged for their La Liga title in 2022/23. Barcelona are still riding a wave of unbridled chaos. Atlético Madrid do not inspire confidence that they are about to regain the form that helped them win La Liga in 2020/21 and then deserted them last term. Sevilla have lost Diego Carlos and are about to lose Jules Koundé this close-season.
Madrid, on the other hand, have brought in two top-class additions and trimmed the fat considerably already. Marcelo, Gareth Bale and Isco will depart the Santiago Bernabéu when their contracts expire at the end of this month and the likes of Ceballos and Marco Asensio will most likely follow them out the door later this summer. That would free up space on their roster and enable them to strengthen in a couple of other positions should they feel the need. But they look a good bet to impress in Spain and in Europe next year.
The success Madrid enjoyed in 2021/22 was tempered by the inconsistency of performances during key matches – they often played results football rather than something truly impressive. The mission next year is to pair their success with swagger.