Much movement in Europe has been recorded throughout the summer, but one of the most active among the clubs in its attempts to improve could be alienating their best players. Real Madrid has completed deals for several midfielders in Isco, Asier Illarramendi, and Casemiro when the Madrid club already suffers from abundance of wonderful talent right behind the striker.
Players already in contention for these positions are Luka Modric, Kaka, Sami Khedira, Jese Rodriguez, Denis Cheryshev, Mesut Özil and Angel Di Maria, not including the inevitable arrival of Gareth Bale. Most of them are attacking players, and manager Carlo Ancelotti is attempting a more attractive, attacking style of football.
For the last three years under Jose Mourinho, Real were always under a double pivot formation – the use of two defensive midfielders in a 4-2-3-1. This season we have already seen the use of a single pivot of either Casemiro or Khedira, while Xabi Alonso is out until November, in a 4-1-4-1 allowing for more playing time.
With this, though, it results in less playing time and less freedom for standout players Mesut Özil and Angel Di Maria, both of whom have proven to be important to Madrid in recent years.
Di Maria’s direct style of playing is refreshingly unique in today’s game. His combination of speed and ball handling ability is usually hard for defenders to control, which easily allows him to slip in behind the back line. Di Maria has also cemented a spot on Argentina’s international squad, who has such a large group of talent to choose from as a favorite for the World Cup trophy. His name has been mentioned to Tottenham Hotspur in the deal for Gareth Bale, but Di Maria is determined to fight for his place in Madrid.
Özil is a much more physically imposing player. The German international has been the key ingredient to much of Madrid’s success in recent years. Since he has joined Madrid in 2010, Özil has gained lots of muscle, improving his hold up play and domination of the ball. With the influx of competition in his position, it is logical for him to feel discontent with the lack of recognition for the work the No. 10 has done. Özil’s preferred position is in the central attacking midfield position where he feels free to roam in front or behind the strikers and the left and right side inter-changing positions with his teammates. Both Di Maria and Özil started Monday night which could mean that Ancelotti has recognized a potential regularity for them in the starting eleven, but Özil’s reaction to being taken off is not promising.
With interest from Manchester United and Arsenal, Özil is weighing his options for a future away from the Santiago Bernabeu. Real Madrid cannot lose these key players and will learn the hard way if they release the fulcrum of the current squad.
Alejandro de Jesus is a contributing Soccer writer for RantSports.com. You can follow Alejandro on Twitter right here @GeograFOOT