Arguably the most perpetual, talked-about transfer saga of the summer is still not resolved as Real Madrid continue their quest to land highly-regarded Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea.
And why would they give up the chase, with De Gea openly admitting that he would only ever consider leaving Old Trafford for a spell in his native homeland with one of the big two financial powerhouses - Real or Barcelona.
The Spaniard’s record in the Premier League has improved dramatically in the four seasons since leaving Atletico Madrid for pastures new. Rafael Benitez’s side are not the only interested party, with fluctuating enquires made by Paris Saint Germain among others.
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Real are unlikely to give up their pursuit of De Gea until either the transfer window is slammed shut - in which case a likely move in January is in the offing, or De Gea commits his future at Old Trafford and regains the trust of manager Louis van Gaal and his first-team colleagues.
However, I can’t help but feel while Real seemingly waste time pursuing their number one transfer target, they may have missed a trick at the other end of the pitch.
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Sunday’s unconvincing display at newly-promoted Sporting Gijon brought to light another issue that Benitez must address.
Real lacked spark and creativity as an attacking force. On numerous occasions they looked short of ideas and ultimately quality in the final-third.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been exceptional during his time at the Bernabeu, consistently ranking as the best player in the world, with the statistics to support such a claim. But his lack of fitness and inability to shake off a niggling back problem give Benitez the sort of headache he could do without, having only just taken up the reigns.
The slight concerns over his fitness levels will only add to the former Liverpool manager’s worries over a lack of goals elsewhere in his squad.
Karim Benzema, also embroiled in a transfer saga - with Arsenal the interested party - missed Sunday’s goalless draw with a thigh problem and could well miss Saturday’s home match with Real Betis, having only just returned to training.
Lead the line
Despite wavering interest from elsewhere, Benzema looks set to stay at the Bernabeu and lead the line as Real’s only out-and-out striker. Benitez opted to start Jese Rodriguez against Gijon, only for the decision to backfire, with the 22-year-old looking far from comfortable as the lone frontman.
Benitez, a two-time La Liga winner with Valencia let’s not forget, insisted he was brought in to sure up things defensively and despite the odd occasional threat, Real were never in danger of losing to the newly-promoted side, looking a solid defensive unit in the process.
However, issues have begun to arise at the other end of the pitch. Concerns over Ronaldo’s fitness levels and Benzema’s on-going thigh troubles, beg the question: Should Benitez cool off talks with De Gea and look more firmly at bringing in a new centre-forward?
The intense speculation over De Gea is unlikely to settle before a decision over his future is made, but Benitez must be contemplating solving a glaring issue that is only likely to intensify as the weeks progress.
Football fans, do you agree? Would Real be better served chasing a striker rather than De Gea? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.
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