Connect in the back of the net

Just after the hour mark of Real Madrid’s narrow 0-1 victory in Grenada on Monday night, Carlo Ancelotti substituted Mesut Ozil for Casimero, a decision that the German showed his clear objection to by angrily storming off down the tunnel.

Ancelotti has begun his reign with 2 wins out of 2 but the sluggish, fragmented manner in which his team have achieved the victories will concern the Italian coach and so will the rumours of discontent within the squad that were etched in the reaction of his midfielder.

Back at the Bernabeu, a huge platform overlooks the pitch as the club awaits confirmation of the signing of Gareth Bale and also ominously looms of the futures of the players who could be pushed out to the fringes by the arrival of the Welshman. It is likely that Bale will join Isco and Cristiano Ronaldo in the attacking line of three behind the striker, freezing Ozil out of the side and strengthening the rumours linking the 24 year old with a move to Manchester United.

Ozil has been an integral member of Madrid’s squad since his €15 million move from Werder Bremen in 2010, making a total of 158 appearances in 3 years with Los Blancos, as well as a hugely popular one, Sergio Ramos protested against Jose Mourinho’s decision to leave Ozil out of the team last season by sporting a shirt with the German’s name on underneath his own.

However Madrid and president Florentino Perez will see interest in Ozil as a chance to ease the finances and transfer budget that will be strained by the move for Bale that is almost certain to cost in excess of €90 million.

The possibility of Ozil’s departure will be intensified by his reaction in Grenada in a game that was settled by an early goal from Karim Benzema who has also been linked with a move away from the Spanish capital as Arsenal remain interested in the French striker.

Madrid’s tentative monitoring of Luis Suarez throughout the summer has represented a search for a more clinical striker than Benzema who struggled for form last year as he ended up with a modest 20 goals.

It would be a huge statement of intent for Arsenal in their pursuit of a prolific striker and the sternest of replies to the criticism of the club’s lack of activity in this summer’s transfer market despite the financial windfall they began it with.

With Liverpool refusing to buckle on their quest to keep hold of Suarez however, partnered with Benzema’s fruitful start to a season in which he has netted in both of Madrid’s opening two matches, it appears likely that the Frenchman will remain in place to spearhead Ancelotti’s attack for at least another year.

Bale’s imminent signing will not directly effect Benzema but it will have a baring on the future of Angel Di Maria, the right winger who Bale is likely to replace on the opposite flank to Cristiano Ronaldo. Di Maria, like Ozil, is also a popular member of the Bernabeu squad and it has been Ronaldo who has publicly pledged this summer to do his best to ensure the Argentine winger stays in the capital.

Having arrived from Benfica for €25 million in 2010 and lying on a €50,000 weekly contract until 2018, Ronaldo may find his wishes fall on deaf ears as Perez sees in Di Maria another opportunity to recoup a big fee with the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United being reportedly chasing the 25 year old.

Di Maria made 139 appearances during his 3 year spell in Madrid, scoring 25 goals and assisting 53, his pace and direct tendency to cut in from his usual station on the right side proving hugely vital to the frenetic counter-attacking style deployed by Jose Mourinho.

There will be no shortage of suitors should the Argentine become available and there is a chance his future could follow that of Arjen Robben, the former jet-heeled resident of Real’s right-flank who was sold on the deadline day of 2009 in contrast to the wishes of the Dutchman and then-coach Manuel Pellegrini who wanted the player to remain in Madrid.

Robben was one of the players moved out of the Bernabeu back in 2009 as the cub aimed to balance the books after the club broke their transfer record twice with Kaka and Ronaldo on their way to a total summer spend of over £172 million. The winger was sold to Bayern Munich alongside fellow Dutchman Wesley Sneijder who left for Inter Milan, and both appeared in the Champions League final of the following Spring, Sneider eventually winning it with Inter.

It is Di Maria and Ozil who are likely to be the cast-offs from Galatico land this time round and anybody who remembers the summer of 2009 will be well informed to make a move for Madrid’s next batch of unwanted talent.

Perez and Ancelotti have been more than willing to cash out but clubs should remain on high alert should they decide to cash in.


Written by Adam Gray

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamGray1250

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