La Liga winners, Real Madrid, have completed the preliminary health checkups for the upcoming season, and all players have been given the all-clear to join the first-team training.
Thanks to their exploits in Spain, Real Madrid came out of the last season with a prestigious trophy, but not everyone in White performed up to the mark.
Today, we’ll take a look at five potential first-team players who would be under the microscope next season; players who’ll need to prove their mettle to keep their place at Real Madrid.
#1 Eden Hazard
Real Madrid signed Eden Hazard in the summer of 2019, hoping to fill in the gaping hole Cristiano Ronaldo left the season before. He was the first €100m signing since Gareth Bale in 2013 and was expected to set the Spanish first-division on fire.
Unfortunately, the Belgian endured a patchy start to his Real Madrid career and finished the first season without making a mark.
Hazard joined the first-team training well over his optimal weight, which immediately raised concerns about his commitment. He eventually managed to get rid of the extra pounds, of course, but niggling injuries only restricted him to 22 appearances across all competitions.
The former Chelsea man conjured only a single goal and seven assists in those 22 matches.
#2 Luka Jovic
While Eden Hazard struggled with his weight and injuries, another high-profile summer signing, Luka Jovic, never looked like displacing Karim Benzema on Zinedine Zidane’s team sheet.
Given the form Benzema was in, it would’ve been difficult for any player in the world to give the Frenchman a run for his money, but everyone probably expected a little better from the Serbian sharpshooter.
Zidane wasn’t impressed enough with the former Eintracht Frankfurt man and kept him on the bench or out of the matchday squad for the majority of the campaign.
In 27 appearances across all competitions, he secured only two goals and a single assist — a rather disappointing return for a €60m acquisition.
#3 Raphael Varane
Raphael Varane is the only Real Madrid player on this list who isn’t a newcomer to the first team. However, we believe his inclusion — although unorthodox — is well warranted.
The Frenchman has successfully managed to establish himself as one of the best centre-backs in the world. However, on the leadership front, he’s still a bit of a wild card.
His two mistakes saw Real Madrid crash out of the UEFA Champions League in the Round of 16 stage, and it’s up to the World Cup winner to redeem himself.
With Sergio Ramos drawing closer and closer to retirement, Real Madrid need one of their best players to step up to the plate. And Varane, considering how brilliant he is and the experience he has, is the obvious candidate for it.
Next season, especially in the absence of Ramos, Varane must figure out a way to shine brighter than ever, give the fans the peace of mind they deserve.
#4 Martin Odegaard
After weeks of speculation, Real Madrid finally decided to recall Martin Odegaard back from Real Sociedad. The versatile young midfielder was one of the first names on the team sheet at La Real and would hope for respectable involvement at his parent club.
Real Madrid probably could’ve done without the Norwegian next season, but Zinedine Zidane’s high praise made the deal inevitable.
The 21-year-old is versatile, has good vision, and can pop up with a goal or two when required — factors that make him an excellent addition to Zidane’s star-studded unit.
Considering the competition, Odegaard could have wait for a while to get his big break. However, every time he steps on to the pitch, fans would expect to see something magical and hope for him to replicate his Sociedad days.
#5 Alvaro Odriozola
Despite his insane trophy haul, Odriozola didn’t manage to produce a single decisive moment throughout the campaign.
Real Madrid has recalled Odriozola for Bayern Munich for the upcoming campaign and are likely to deploy the young full-back as a backup to the ever-reliable Dani Carvajal.
Pace and stamina are Odriozola’s greatest assets, and he must make sure he uses them immaculately to get on Zidane’s good books.