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Borja Mayoral and Real Madrid split: what it means for the substitute striker spot

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It’s hard for many Real Madrid fans to fathom, but the depth chart at the centre-forward position – a position that many feel needs to be strengthened with more quality players – continues to fade. After the club ‘sold’ Luka Jovic – while retaining 50% of his rights and cutting his losses – Borja Mayoral is next on the list. Today Real Madrid confirmed something that has been reported for some time in Spain: the Spaniard has officially been sold to Getafe. The fee would be around 10 million.

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Mayoral’s story is somewhat sad, at least for me anyway. He worked hard and waited patiently for his turn, but neither time nor luck caught up with him. Zinedine Zidane wanted to keep him on Luka Jovic at the turn of the 2020-2021 season; but the Spaniard went to Roma on loan in search of game time and career development – with the hope of returning as a more polished player to serve the club.

Mayoral rose to Rome under then-coach Paolo Fonseca. He has scored 17 goals and six assists in all competitions. He finished fifth in Serie A in non-penalty goals by 90 in the 2020-21 season. He excelled as a link-up striker, modeling his game around his idol, Karim Benzema.

But at the end of the season, the manager who believed in him at Real Madrid, Zidane, had left, and the one who had taken over at Roma, José Mourinho, put him aside. Mayoral’s career stalled until he was loaned to Getafe mid-season, where he was statistically one of the most effective strikers in Europe, ranking third (!) in the top five leagues Europeans in goals per shot. Mayoral has recorded the most goals per shots on target of any La Liga player in the 2021-22 season. (Small sample size, but he was efficient in his playing time and touches in Spain.)

But there’s another stab, and that’s where Mayoral’s career ends: there was potential, however marginal, that he could have acted as an understudy for Benzema this season because he wanted to stay, and even hold on. accepting Getafe’s offer, hoping that Real Madrid would reach out to him. But he was going to have a hard time getting a place in the squad while Mariano Diaz didn’t want to leave either.

Mayoral fits Real Madrid’s profile a bit better than Mariano. Stylistically, he can slot in as Benzema’s replacement more seamlessly on both without a scheme overhaul.

But the reality is that Real Madrid are struggling to find a home for Mariano, who continue to refuse a move. Also, the club is trying to open roster places, and frankly, and this is an important point: Mayoral doesn’t move the needle much. He’s good, but maybe not good enough to become desperately attached when an offer exists for him.

Real Madrid had substitute strikers, three of them in fact: Mayoral, Mariano and Jovic. They have even more if you count the false nine options: Rodrygo Goes, Marco Asensio, Eden Hazard. Two of the three pure forwards are gone. The third, Mariano, the club will continue to try to move before the end of the transfer window.

And that’s the reality of having one of the greatest players in Real Madrid history as a starting striker: no one wants to be his replacement, and those who do are probably not good enough.

And this next point may hurt Real Madrid fans reading this: I don’t think opening a venue by selling Mayoral necessarily opens the door for a new striker to arrive. It may be, it may not. From everything we know at Managing Madrid, it’s been difficult for the club to find the player they need, and there’s a scenario where they’re waiting until next summer to see what opportunities open up on the market.

There’s a real case that they should step up for someone, though, and I see merit in signing off on some of the reported names: Edin Dzeko (experienced, may not ask for a lot of playing time, may keep it cool in front of goal if needed despite not playing much), Timo Werner (he has link-up ability and can accommodate a change of scenery), Raul de Tomas (just a badass striker who can do a lot of good things all over the pitch and who is a former player).

But there is no indication that Dzeko or Werner would accept such roles in the team. Maybe Raul de Tomas would, however, it would be risky for him to do so as he enters the peak of his career as a substitute for one of Real Madrid’s GOATs. All of these reports have surfaced, but there has been no real interest from the club itself in any of these players.

Real Madrid will treat the substitute striker option as they have treated most of their transfer strategy over the past few years: jump on market opportunities they believe in, without bamboozling players. A few of those they’ve splashed on in the past (like Jovic), have exploded in their faces for reasons we’ve discussed many times already, and they don’t want to make the same mistake again.

If a good deal comes their way, they’ll take it, but Real Madrid won’t look at Benzema’s replacement role with desperation as they’ll still have to incorporate players in Hazard and Asensio who can take on the role. faux-new if necessary.

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