With Real Madrid unlikely to retain their Spanish league title this season, the reigning La Liga champions must recruit some reinforcements this summer.
Los Blancos have lacked the finishing and attacking flair, with the exception of Cristiano Ronaldo, that made them La Liga champions last season with key players like Gonzalo Higuain, Karim Benzema and Angel di Maria failing to perform.
Their defence has also appeared shaky at times with Real Madrid conceding first in most of their league matches. Perhaps a good full-back could be useful as they will look to dethrone Barcelona of their forecasted La Liga title next season.
Here are five players who could really help Real Madrid challenge for the domestic crown:
5. Wilfried Bony | Vitesse | Estimated value: £10-15m
At 24, having scored 33 goals in 31 matches, Bony has powered Vitesse - who are not a traditional giant of the Dutch game - to within three points of the top of the Eredivisie.
With more league goals to his name than Robin van Persie, Robert Lewandowski and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, among many others, the 24-year-old clearly has more to offer.
Bony is blessed with incredible strength and presence, just like Didier Drogba, but the Vitesse star does not have the extreme pace that the Chelsea legend did in his heyday.
What Bony does best is bully defenders inside the penalty area. He wants to test himself at a higher level - and why not at the biggest club of them all?
4. Isco | Malaga | Estimated value: £15-25m
The young Spaniard has been in scintillating form during this years' Champions League campaign, scoring three and creating another four goals.
While in La Liga he has carried Malaga at times, netting eight times and catching the eye of Real Madrid’s scouting team.
Aged 20 he made his international debut last month as a late substitute and has played 40 times this season already - and will surely move in the summer as Malaga are banned from playing in Europe next season.
3. Sergio Aguero | Manchester City | Estimated value: £40-50m
Sergio Aguero is a player Real wanted to sign years back when he was at Atletico Madrid, but the relationship between the rival clubs made a transfer impossible and he ended up at Manchester City instead.
Having spent two years at City, he remains their most effective striker, and would also command a huge fee in excess of the £37m City paid for him.
At 24, Aguero has 14 goals and five assists this season and has also been hampered by injury this season. With Manchester City’s interest in out-of-form striker Higuain increasing, Real Madrid could make an official bid, with Aguero coming to the Bernabeu and Higuain going in the opposite direction.
2. Gareth Bale | Tottenham | Estimated value: £40-50m
Bale is a winger who can play as a central attacking midfielder or even upfront. However, with Ronaldo moving to the right, Bale can play on the left wing where he has been most effective this season.
At 23, Bale has 22 goals and 13 assists this season and has flourished over the past few months, producing sensational performance which have made him a frontrunner for the Premier League Player of the Year Award. He has been targeted by Real Madrid for some time now, although an official bid is yet to be made.
His admiration for Real Madrid could be a turning point in this transfer window, which could see Bale move to Madrid for a relatively small fee and Higuain, who has not been in great form, move to Spurs.
1. Daniel Carvajal | Bayer Leverkusen | Estimated value: £6-8m
With Carvajal’s 3.8 tackles per game to Arbeloa’s 2.8, and Carvajal’s 3.7 interceptions to Arbeloa’s 1.7, the Bayer Leverkusen right-back beats Alvaro Arbeloa in every single important defensive stat available.
Subjectively speaking, Carvajal does leave a few holes at the back and sometimes overcompensates with a rash tackle, but he's a two-way footballer. Alvaro has no excuse for having bad positional awareness given that he offers nothing in the attacking third.
Another reason why Carvajal should be Real Madrid's starting right-back next season is because he has the X-factor going forwards, with five assists to Arbeloa’s two - and because he has made more dribbles and has created many more chances this season than Arbeloa.
With Real Madrid having a buy-back clause on Carvajal for the first three seasons of his contract, meaning that Real would pay an estimated £6.5m should he come this summer, the 21-year-old is a cheap but world-class option for Real Madrid and will most probably make his move this summer because of Florentino Perez’s admiration for him.
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