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The Real Madrid XI that will dominate football for a decade

Martin Macdonald
Kylian Mbappé
© IMAGO

The signs are that Kylian Mbappe will finally end a two-year dance with Real Madrid and agree to sign for the 14-time European champions this summer upon the expiry of his Paris Saint-Germain contract.

Mbappe’s demands are stratospheric with reports in Cadena SER of a €50 million annual salary, a €120 million signing-on fee and a 60/40 split in the player’s image rights.

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Signing the France World Cup winner would make him the centrepiece of a new-look team and one which looks equipped to wreak havoc on the Spanish and European game for years to come.

This summer promises to be a landmark transfer period for Real Madrid. Not only is Mbappe now expected to arrive but it appears as though two of their most successful ever signings in Luka Modric and Toni Kroos will be leaving.

New season, new Madrid

Modric hasn’t always been first choice for Carlo Ancelotti this season and, at 38, looks set to leave after 12 trophy-laden years at Santiago Bernabeu.

Kroos, like Modric, agreed to a one-year contract extension last summer but is likely to retire as a player at the top of his game at the end of this season. That is despite the pleas of his own mother, who would prefer him to stay one more year in Madrid.

But maybe the time has come to move on with players like Aurélien Tchouaméni and Eduardo Camavinga set to take over the midfield mantle for the decade ahead.

To that French pair you can add Federico Valverde, one of Madrid’s outstanding players already and who, at only 25, looks set for many more years reigning supreme.

There could be further opportunities too for Nico Paz, an exciting 19-year-old who has shown in mere flashes of first-team football that he possesses the character and technique to make it at Madrid.

Jude Bellingham Real Madrid
© IMAGO – Jude Bellingham Real Madrid

Likewise, Arda Guler might be frustrated following an injury-hit first season at the club, which has seen him play only nine LaLiga minutes to date, but as one of the coming forces in European football he has every chance of making an impact.

Endrick, a winner of two Brazilian league titles by the age of 17, will arrive this summer for a fee worth up to €70 million and will be seeking to follow in the footsteps of Champions League winners Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes.

He is seen as the outstanding teenage footballer on the planet and won’t be coming to Madrid to make up the numbers.

His signing has been orchestrated by Real’s chief scout, Juni Calafat, who is the outstanding figure in his position among Europe’s top clubs.

Having been raised in Brazil, he has smoothed the path for many top talents coming over from South America, including Vini and Valverde, and there is no reason to believe Endrick will be any different.

Toni Kroos and Luka Modric Real Madrid
© IMAGO – Toni Kroos and Luka Modric Real Madrid

Calafat also has his eyes on the 18-year-old French centre back Leny Yoro. He has been attracting attention from all of Europe’s top clubs – including Manchester United in the Premier League – but Madrid look set to be in pole position for his signature.

Yoro has a fee on his services worth a reported €60 million and central defence is one area in need of attention this summer.

Suffering from the long-term losses through injury of David Alaba and Eder Militao, Madrid have got only Nacho Fernandez as their senior fit centre back and, at the weekend, he was partnered by Dani Carvajal in a makeshift backline against Atletico Madrid.

Nacho, like Lucas Vazquez, is out of contract at the end of the season but those two ended up signing one-year extensions late in the day last summer and the same could yet happen again.

Nonetheless, Madrid need options in that area.

Vinicius Real Madrid
© IMAGO – Vinicius Real Madrid

Another problem area in terms of injury has been goalkeeper. Thibaut Courtois was ruled out for the season back in autumn, leading to Andriy Lunin and on-loan Kepa Arrizabalaga sharing duties between them but the big Belgian will be back between the sticks next term.

At left back there have been constant questions over the fitness of Ferland Mendy and it looks as though the club are set to move for a new first-choice in that area.

It could well be Alphonso Davies with the Bayern Munich left-sider out of contract in 2025 and no signs yet that the Bavarians are ready to meet his demands. Like Kroos and Alaba before him, the Canadian could be set to embark on a journey from the Allianz Arena to the Bernabeu if Madrid decide to stump up the fee.

One player who could depart in the Mbappe shake-up is Joselu; the Spain striker was seen very much as a stop-gap signing last summer and the decision to replace Karim Benzema with the 33-year-old looks to have been a shrewd move.

Real Madrid 2024-25
© IMAGO – Real Madrid 2024-25

Madrid are not shackled by a high wage and will be able to move on from the former Stoke player rather quickly since his loan deal from Espanyol has an option to make it permanent and not an obligation.

That leaves the space wide open for Ancelotti to re-order his strike line with a plethora of talent at his disposal.

Add in Ballon d’Or candidates Vini and Jude Bellingham and you can see that the manager will have an embarrassment of riches to choose from next season.

The Italian has signed a recent contract extension of his own and is the ideal man to handle the challenges that the new era at Madrid will throw up.

This season was supposed to be about staying in contention with a team very much in transition. Not only that, but Madrid have also been hit hard by injuries; Alaba, Militao and Courtois have suffered the most.

But if Real Madrid can go top of the league and be among the favourites for the Champions League with an injury-hit squad which is also in need of replenishment, how far can the Mbappe-led iteration go next term and in the years ahead?

Mbappe will be the crowning glory of the sensational new Real Madrid era. For Madrid fans around the world, there is plenty to look forward to.

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