Real have been a journalist’s dream this season. Just as things get normal (as normal as things can be at the Santiago Bernabeu), they throw up another huge story worthy of dissecting and disseminating.
But this isn’t just a poor result or an increasingly-frequent coaching change. Madrid have broken the rules for the second time this season, and yet again it involves illegitimate players, but the consequences are far more severe.
Just like transfer ban which ailed Barcelona – and ended this month – Madrid have also been prohibited from registering players for the next two transfer windows.
The fine of €329,000 which comes from improperly signing under-18 players from abroad will mean very little to Los Blancos. What would be very damaging, however, is the very real possibility that they miss out on some huge transfer targets.
Madridistas would have likely sniggered at the news that Barca had been banned for illegal activity. However, their rivals past plight could serve to aid them during this difficult time.
Barca’s appeal gave them eight months before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) definitively rejected the appeal. Madrid would have appealed regardless, but should they enjoy the same period of freedom as La Blaugrana did from CAS, they could be set for a massive summer window.
Newspapers in Italy are already debating whether moves for Paul Pogba and Alvaro Morata are feasible, with Juventus likely to have them under lock and key should Florentino Perez come calling.
Should Los Merengues wish to push through a move for any player, though, they are likely to be charged premium prices due to their desperate situation.
If these bans become a regular occurrence, there is every chance that the process could be streamlined and sped up, meaning their appeal could go out the window before July. If that is the case, Zinedine Zidane and Madrid have only the rest of January to bolster the squad for the next 18 months.
Banning Los Blancos halfway through the January transfer window is very much like when the police tell a suspect to freeze. They seemingly always run anyway, and in Madrid’s case, they will still be able to make transfers before the month is out. Consequently, they will need to be sure their fax machine is in full working order in case they rush though some late transfers this winter.
Only a week into the job, it is very doubtful that Zizou has even considered what players to bring to the squad as he has yet to assess his squad fully. The Madrid job is tough and pressuring enough without the inability to sign players, which has been dumped on his shoulders.
Two of his sons are among the suspected minors, which then brings a different kind of stress. It does, however, give him the perfect excuse to promote the youth in the team, perhaps bringing through some of the players who worked under him at Castilla, such as Martin Odegaard, who has trained with the first team.
Having watched Barca reprimanded by the law, perhaps Los Blancos were already prepping for the inevitable. A raft of young players have joined the club recently, including Lucas Vazquez, Jesus Vallejo, Marco Asensio and Mateo Kovacic, all of whom are under 21.
Of course, there is nothing preventing them from buying players during this time – they simply cannot be registered, so expect the cash to be splashed regardless. Still, it’s definitely another unwanted speedbump in what has already been a rocky season.