Opinion: 7 players most likely to replace Cristiano at Real Madrid

  • Michael Yokhin ranks potential Cristiano replacements from least to most likely

7 – Kylian Mbappe

“The 19-year-old has already hit superstardom, culminating in his award for the best young player at this summer’s World Cup. Technically, Mbappe isterrific, and he’s also smart and lightning quick. His mental strength and confidence were both evident in Russia, and he could arguably become an instant success at any club in the world. Madrid don’t really have much hope of landing him this summer – Mbappe has already declared that he’ll stay in Paris next season – but strangely, the permanent deal hasn’t yet been announced. A window of opportunity, perhaps?”

6 – Paulo Dybala
“The Argentine is an outrageously talented and versatile striker with mighty dribbling skills and shooting ability. There are significant doubts, though, whether Dybala can really be a true big-game player. Granted, he put in a brilliant performance against Barcelona in the 2016/17 Champions League quarter-finals, but he tends to disappear when it matters most – as in the 2017 final against Real. The 24-year-old has scored six Champions League goals in 26 matches, and is yet to prove himself for Argentina.”

5 – Goncalo Guedes

A bold prediction, but wait: Guedes could be the real heir to Ronaldo. For a start, he’s Portuguese. Secondly, his style is reminiscent of the young Cristiano. He’s able to play on both wings, is creative, his ball control is excellent, and his form for Valencia was very good before a patchy World Cup with Portugal. Los Che are now dreaming of making his loan move from PSG permanent, and the Parisians will sell to help them meet Financial Fair Play regulations. For Real Madrid, though, this could be a chance to sign a potentially world-class superstar at a decent price.”

4 – Timo Werner

“Madrid already considered signing the German in January, and in many ways he would be a very good fit. He’s young at just 22, but also experiencedhaving made his Bundesliga debut at the age of 17 – and he’s almost certain to score a lot of goals. Having netted 34 times in 63 league matches for RB Leipzig, he’s now the central striker for Germany. As a disappointing World Cup showed, however, he’s not quite the finished article and will need more time at the top level to be judged accordingly.”

3 – Robert Lewandowski

“Bayern Munich’s Polish superstar has been the best centre-forward in the world over the past six years. Though a true penalty area predator who is strong and powerful, Lewandowski is also elegant and capable of scoring exquisite goals. His record for Borussia Dortmund and Bayern speaks for itself: he’s not scored fewer than 25 goals per season since 2011. There’s one significant problem, though: Lewandowski will be 30 in August, and therefore hardly a player you can build a future around. He would be an extremely costly short-term solution, and it’s doubtful Los Blancos need that.”

2 – Mauro Icardi
“If Madrid are looking for a ruthless player, Icardi should be their man. He’s used to overcoming different crises, including a big fallout with Inter fans, by performing on the pitch and scoring goals. It will be very difficult to find a No.9 with a better one-touch finish: the 25-year-old has a powerful shot, is good in the air and dangerous anywhere around the box. Real Madrid need someone like him, even if he’s by no means a direct replacement for Ronaldo.”

1 – Eden Hazard

The most likely attacking move for Real Madrid this summer. The Belgian is quite similar to Ronaldo in more ways than one – a left-sided player who predominantly uses his right foot to shoot, likes to cut inside and can even perform as a central striker. He’s an exquisite dribbler, a major source of unpredictable creativity and vastly experienced at the highest level, having played for Chelsea since 2012. At 27, Hazard is now the right age to look for a new challenge before it’s too late. After being linked with a Bernabeu move almost every summer, it’s about time to take that chance.”

Who of these players is your preferred option?


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