Kylian Mbappe’s arrival at Real Madrid will lead to a rift between Gareth Bale, Vinicius and Eden Hazard for last place in their first three… and the latter could also later lose the prized number 7 shirt to him
- The nature of Kylian Mbappe’s debut for Real Madrid depends on when it happens
- The same goes for how the French attacker fits into Carlo Ancelotti’s team
- Karim Benzema retains his place on Real’s frontline as Mbappé arrives
- Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale and Vinicius Jr will fight for last place in front three
Will he wear the number 19 shirt in front of 40,000 fans in a half-full Bernabeu on September 11? Or wearing Cristiano Ronaldo’s old No 7 shirt next summer in front of a packed house in a nearly completed stadium and perhaps if not the only big name signing?
The nature of Kylian Mbappe’s debut for Real Madrid depends a lot on when it happens and the same goes for how he fits into Carlo Ancelotti’s squad.
When he comes in now, he will rush in to the left of the front three on his right foot (or run wherever he pleases as he is Mbappé and he will probably tear up most LaLiga defences) and often switch positions with center forward Karim Benzema.
Carlo Ancelotti (right) could have Kylian Mbappe (left) at his disposal this season or next season
Karim Benzema retains his place on Real’s frontline as Mbappé arrives at the Bernabeu
Then Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale and Vinicius Jr will all take last place in the attacking trio.
Hazard is the obvious choice to play in terms of what he costs and the fact that he is still a relatively recent purchase.
But after another distasteful performance at the weekend, when he was ejected for Vinicius, who then scored twice, he will not automatically inherit third place on the grid.
Coming from the right on his left foot suits Bale better and he has started the season in better form than the Belgian.
Vinicius prefers to play on the left side from where he destroyed Levante’s defense last weekend, but Ancelotti wants to convince him that his blazing speed should allow him to play for players on both sides.
Ancelotti will enjoy figuring out how best to solve the problem. If he is still the coach next season, a whole host of new decisions could be made.
But Eden Hazard (left) and Vinicius Jr (right) could find their places on the side under threat
There will be time to build the team around Mbappé. Bale will have completed the last year of his contract and he will be gone – that’s a big part of Madrid’s wage bill.
They have saved themselves £137 million by not buying Mbappe on a transfer fee. And they will have had the revenue from a season with fans back at the Bernabeu, so they may want to buy a third man for their front three and a midfielder.
If Hazard’s third campaign proves not to be better than his first two, he will be moved, freeing up the number 7 for Mbappe.
It was his number at PSG and it was the number Ronaldo – whose poster hung on Mbappe’s wall as a child – wore when he played at the Bernabeu. If he signs now, options are limited, but Alvaro Odriozola moves to Fiorentina and releases 19.
If Mbappe joins next year, Bale will have completed the last year of his contract and he will be gone
Seven was Raul’s number before Ronaldo, so it would make sense for him to inherit it as the club’s key player, unless Hazard does enough in this campaign to earn the right to keep it.
If Mbappe doesn’t arrive until next summer, this season will be an eight-month audition for Vinicius and Hazard to see who stands next to him. And if neither passes, Madrid will turn to the market.
New signings may also be needed in midfield to give the squad a solid foundation from which to leverage the new Mbappe-led forward.
They are already looking at Leon Goretzka, whose contract with Bayern expires next summer. Paul Pogba will be back on the agenda, albeit with all the old warnings about the wages he will demand, the commission involved in his arrival and whether he can really leave United.
What is certain is that when Mbappe arrives he will demand the team win and with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric closer to the end of their careers in midfield, Bale is gone, Hazard has yet to prove himself and Vinicius still an unknown amount in terms of how good he will get, the signings won’t stop at Mbappe.
New midfielders may also be needed next summer – Paul Pogba is back on the agenda
REAL MADRID POSSIBLE SETUPS
Real Madrid now with Mbappe
Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy
Modric/Kroos, Casemiro, Valverde
Baal / Hazard / Vincius, Benzema, Mbappé
With Mbappé next summer:
Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy
Pogba/Goretzka, Casemiro, Valverde
Hazard/Vinicius/new signing, Benzema, Mbappe