Real Madrid’s nightmare scenario has played out this summer with both of their most experienced centre-backs wandering through the exit door.
They played hardball over Sergio Ramos and shoved the centre-back out despite him trying to accept the contract offer late in the day.
That decision meant PSG gained a serial winner and experienced centre-back on a free transfer, and with just one year remaining on his deal, Varane has now seized his opportunity to fulfil a desire to play in the Premier League.
Faced with the possibility of losing Varane for free next summer amid a refused contract offer from the Frenchman, Real Madrid were forced to take up a weakened negotiating position and all-but forced to sell their remaining star defender.
As a result, Manchester United have sealed a €50million bargain in what has to be one of the deals of the summer.
For Los Blancos, it’s a far from ideal scenario, and Carlo Ancelotti must now start a new reign at the Santiago Bernabeu with a totally new centre-back partnership.
The signing of David Alaba will help, the former Bayern Munich star bringing a wealth of experience and replacing some of that serial winning attitude, while Ancelotti will also be able to call upon Eder Militao and Nacho Fernandez, who both filled in more than adequately in Ramos’ absence last season.
And so, on paper, Real Madrid can survive this double loss, but there are many more factors at play, including the loss of culture, of leadership and of continuity.
That’s where Ancelotti must be very careful heading into this season, when the pressure will be on for Real Madrid to go one better than last term when they took the title race to the final day of the season.
And while a new signing might help at centre-back, it is unlikely, and Militao has earned the opportunity following some very impressive performances last season.
This season, however, he is not filling in, and he must quickly answer questions over whether he can be the starting centre-back Ancelotti needs him to be.
Answer those questions, and Real Madrid will survive this difficult defensive transition, especially with a defensive recruitment likely next summer, but struggle, and Los Blancos could find themselves playing catch-up very quickly.
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