Real Madrid’s struggles this season shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
Not only did they lose Zinedine Zidane, the manager who led the club to three successive Champions League titles, in the summer but they also lost the services of their all-time record goalscorer and talisman Cristiano Ronaldo.
Madrid president Florentino Perez decided it was time to cash-in on the prolific Portuguese forward, who had turned 33 a few months earlier, and that decision has looked more inexplicable with each passing week.
It’s safe to assume that if Ronaldo was still plying his trade at the Bernabeu, Madrid wouldn’t currently be third in La Liga, 10 points behind league-leaders Barcelona with six defeats to their name already this term.
Madrid failed to sign a suitable replacement for Ronaldo and instead handed Gareth Bale the opportunity to become the club’s main man. Unfortunately, though, the Welshman has flattered to deceive.
Luka Modric is another player who has failed to step up following Ronaldo’s departure. The 2018 Ballon d’Or winner could well be coming to the end of his glittering spell at the Bernabeu.
Madrid are currently becoming increasingly reliant on their young Brazilian winger Vinicius Jr. for inspiration.
It’s clear that a squad rebuild is required this summer - but what kind of starting XI could help them return to the top of European football once more?
First of all, let’s take a closer look at the first-team players that could be offloaded.
In no particular order… Keylor Navas, Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Karim Benzema, Mariano, Isco, Lucas Vazquez.
So, how might Madrid’s XI look after the summer transfer window has closed?
Despite an inauspicious start to his Madrid career, the Belgium shot-stopper is a world-class goalkeeper and the ideal long-term number one for Los Blancos.
Marcelo has been a brilliant left-back for Madrid but the Brazil international has declined rapidly in recent months.
Sergio Reguilón, who turned 22 in December, is the present and future in the left-back position.
Sergio Ramos isn’t getting any younger - he turns 33 in March - but he’s still such an important player for Madrid that he *has* to keep his place in next season’s starting line-up.
However, the club’s captain may be used on more of a rotation basis.
Raphael Varane has now been at the Bernabeu for eight years - time flies, doesn’t it? - and is easily one of the best centre-backs in world football on his day.
It makes sense for Madrid to keep the France international alongside Ramos at the heart of their defence for the time being.
Real Madrid spent big money to bring Alvaro Odriozola to the Bernabeu from Real Sociedad last summer and next season he should cement his status as the club’s first-choice right-back ahead of Dani Carvajal.
Already capped four times by Spain, the 23-year-old has a big future ahead of him for both club and country.
Sure they’d love to sign an N’Golo Kante, but Los Blancos already have a top defensive midfielder in the form of Casemiro.
The Brazil international, who turns 27 next month, has won a host of major honours with Madrid as their main holding midfielder and still has plenty to give.
Luka Modric is likely to leave Madrid this summer but Toni Kroos should continue at the club.
If he stays, he’s still good enough to hold down a regular starting spot in Madrid’s first team.
With Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen likely to be out of reach, Madrid should focus their efforts on signing Sergej Milinkovic-Savic from Lazio instead.
The 23-year-old Serbia international has the quality to inject some much-needed attacking threat to Madrid’s midfield.
Just 18 years old, it’s scary to think how good Vinicius Jr. will be in the future.
The Brazilian winger was in and out of the team during his first months at the Bernabeu but has already managed to cement his status as a first-team regular.
Perez will be desperate to secure the services of a world-class player this summer - a new ‘Galactico’ - and Eden Hazard fits the bill.
The Belgium international is now at the right stage of his career to leave Stamford Bridge and become the main man at one of the world’s biggest football clubs.
It’s about time Madrid found a new centre-forward to replace Karim Benzema and the brilliant Mauro Icardi appears to tick all the boxes.
The Argentina international has scored 121 goals in 206 games for Inter and would surely score bang in even more goals in La Liga, playing alongside better footballers.
Real Madrid's 2019-20 potential XI
Andriy Lunin, Marcelo, Dani Carvajal, Dani Ceballos, Marco Asensio, Martin Odegaard, Pedro Ruiz.