Real Madrid have an immense amount of talent that they put on the soccer pitch every week. Between Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez, Luka Modric, Isco, and Sergio Ramos-to name just a few of the great players at Santiago Bernabeu-Real Madrid should have one of the best football teams in the world. What looks great on paper hasn't translated to greatness this season, though. The Vikings have played solid but unspectacular football in the La Liga since Rafa Benitez took over as manager, with recent losses to Cadiz and Villarreal underlining a somewhat confounding lack of consistency.
Add a disqualification from the Copa del Rey, and it's not difficult to see why some fans in the Real Madrid home jersey 2015/16 are ready for their club to kick Benitez to the curb. In fact, it's really on the Champions League-where Real Madrid won five of their six group stage matches, led by Cristiano Ronaldo's stunning 11-goal performance-that is keeping the 2015/16 season from being a complete disappointment at the Bernabeu.
Trouble at the Bernabeu
So far, Benitez has held on to his job-though the recent ousting of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea really showed that job security doesn't exist for soccer managers when their clubs aren't performing well. If he makes it to January, though, how will Benitez address his team's troubles in the transfer market? Can he address his team's troubles in the transfer market?
Often, the January transfer window is viewed as something of a lifeline for struggling soccer squads. Such is the case for Premier League clubs like Liverpool and Arsenal this season, as both clubs need reinforcements to help their largely injured and sidelined squads. What those two clubs need to do-essentially, add some extra depth to the lineup to protect against injuries and player exhaustion-is fairly clear.
It's distinctly less clear what Benitez needs to do to fix things at Real Madrid. Theoretically, there should be plenty of talent at the Bernabeu to win a title-or, at very least, to contend with Barcelona. But where Barcelona's dynamite trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez have learned how to play together, Real's dynamic tour-de-force of talented players never have. In particular, there always seems to be a power struggle of sorts going on between Ronaldo and Bale, and plenty of soccer pundits have begun suggesting that the two can't coexist well on the same team.
New Players or High-Profile Exits?
The question, then, is whether Real Madrid's January transfer window will be more about bringing new players in or trying to eliminate squad conflicts by selling big-name players to other football clubs.
Right now, the biggest transfer rumor on the table for the January window appears to be both of those things. Numerous publications are predicting that Real Madrid will sign Chelsea's Eden Hazard, with Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez heading to Stamford Bridge as some sort of trade. Hazard, who won the PFA Player of the Year for his role in Chelsea's Premier League victory last season, has seen his form dip considerably this season. Rodriguez, meanwhile, missed a fair percentage of the fall at Real Madrid thanks to a hamstring injury.
On both sides of the equation, this transfer rumor seems suspect. Part of the rumor, undoubtedly, had to be that Hazard was unhappy under Jose Mourinho. However, now that Guus Hiddink is in charge at Chelsea, he might be more willing to stick around (and Hiddink probably won't be too eager to let him go, either). Rodriguez, meanwhile, has been great at Real Madrid since signing with the football club in 2014. He scored 13 goals in the 2014/15 La Liga season and is usually listed among the best playmakers in the sport. Bottom line, we call bogus on this rumor.
Other recent rumors have seemed similarly unlikely: Real Madrid managing January signings of key Arsenal cogs like Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil or getting their hands on Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski. As for player departures, rumors have been swirling that anyone of the Ronaldo, Bale, and Benzema trio could be sold, but there isn't much evidence to substantiate those claims, either.
Ultimately, most of the January transfer rumors involving Real Madrid right now are rumors that concern very big names. January is not generally a time that football clubs sell their biggest players, so take these rumors with a grain of salt. Benitez probably will pick up a few new players in January, but they will probably be smaller names than the ones being tossed around right now.
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