It’s finally happened! Cristiano Ronaldo has left Real Madrid following nine incredible seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu, and it now set to embark on a new journey with Italian giants Juventus. The 33-year-old scored 450 goals in 438 appearances during his time at Madrid, including 44 in 44 last season, and club president Florentino Perez is now tasked with finding a potential replacement. But which of the worlds strikers is most likely to fill the gap left by Ronaldo?
Belgian forward Eden Hazard has been Chelsea’s stand out player for a number of seasons now, leading the line for the Blues, and terrorizing defenders pretty much every time he graces the field. At 27, Hazard is now in his prime, and while Chelsea will not want to lose him, they will have few complaints over his contributions to the club, and may allow him to leave for the right price. Hazard is the sort of player that can take a game by the scruff of the neck and quickly turn a negative situation into a positive one. He played a huge part in each of Chelsea’s two most recent Premier League titles, and will want to continue that trend, which could be difficult considering the current unrest behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge. Not quite a perfect replacement for Ronaldo, but likely to leave if Madrid come knocking.
If Florentino Perez wishes to bring in a player that will send fans into a frenzy of excitement, Kylian Mbappe is the perfect man for the job. At just 19-years of age, Mbappe appears to have it all. Pace, technical ability, confidence, and perhaps most importantly – excellent decision making, which is rare for such a young player. At Madrid, Mbappe could go on to become the best player in the world, and should the club carefully nurture his talent, the Frenchman could shape their future. The biggest problem in signing Mbappe is fronting the cash. Real Madrid have money to burn, but considering that PSG paid €180m for Mbappe last season, who knows what he’s worth now. The World Cup final will likely be a huge factor in this transfer.
It’s no secret that Real Madrid are interested in Brazilian star Neymar. The 26-year-old is a born galactico, and he’s pretty much as close to a ‘like for like’ replacement for Ronaldo as you’re going to get. Following rumours that he is unhappy at PSG, there is plenty to suggest that Neymar is as keen as on Madrid as they are on him, but like Kylian Mbappe, any potential transfer will be hampered by financial issues. PSG spent an incredible €200m to bring Neymar to the club, and having netted 28 goals in 30 appearances for the French side last season, it would take a huge bid for PSG to even begin to consider letting him leave.
One of the few young players dubbed ‘the new Messi’ that appears to have actually lived up to the hype, Paulo Dybala has become a key figure for Juventus over the last three seasons, proving himself both a versatile individual talent and an accomplished team player. At 24-years-old, the dynamic Argentinian is not quite the finished product, and while Madrid would have no problem in agreeing a deal for Dybala (particularly with Juventus now needing to supplement the Ronaldo transfer), he may not be ready to take a starring role just yet. Dybala was used sparingly by Argentina at the World Cup, and is a popular figure amongst Juve fans. He appears to be improving every season, could learn a lot under the tutelage of Ronaldo, and may feel that he has unfinished business with Juventus in the Champions League.
Few of the world’s top forwards have been as consistent as Tottenham’s Harry Kane over the last few seasons. During Spurs’ two Champions League clashes with Real Madrid last season, Kane was the best player on the pitch, and Florentino Perez will have taken note of his abilities. The Englishman’s goalscoring output is superb, his conversion rate is superb, and it’s no surprise to see him in the race for the Golden Boot at Russia 2018. Kane signed a huge six-year contract with Spurs last month, giving a clear indication that he’s sees a long future in North London. But usually when Madrid want something – they get it. Tottenham have been plundered by Madrid on numerous occasions over the last few years, and a world record bid is unlikely to be turned down by Daniel Levy.