Sergio Ramos and Real Madrid are gradually approaching the end of their long-term union. And as difficult as it sounds, the former Sevilla defender won’t be in the backline of Los Merengues forever.
While the World Cup winner and four times Champions League winner is almost irreplaceable at the Santiago Bernabeu. Just like the era of Fernando Hierro and every Real Madrid legend, there is certainly a need for someone to take up the mantle of coordinating the defense and most importantly the leadership aspect of the locker room.
After joining Real Madrid from Sevilla in the summer of 2005 for €27 million as a young defender and the most expensive Spanish defender at that time, deciding to take the bold step in his career is heading to Madrid.
Sergio Ramos has served the White Angels painstakingly delivering mouthwatering performances in his illustrious career for Los Blancos in terms of leadership, and bailing out the team in difficult moments.
As we approach the January transfer window and there still no sign of Ramos penning a new contract at Real Madrid, despite his contract expiring this season. Given that we are talking about one of the best center-backs in the world, the options are quite limited.
Here are the top 5 defenders currently in top form who could replace Sergio Ramos.
- David Alaba – (Bayern Munich)
The Austrian has been a very loyal servant for the Bavarian giant for many seasons, but his contract would also expire at the end of the campaign, which makes him a subject of transfer discussion to another club.
The left-back cum utility player could move to the Bernabeu before captain fantastic leaves, following a lot of reports linking him to Madrid and perhaps he could play beside him next season.
Alaba may have been around for many seasons, and perhaps looks like a player who has past his prime. However, the fact is the Austrian is still 28 years old and still has four or five years in him playing top-flight football. Even at his age, he has developed himself into one of the most consistent players, playing as a central defender in Europe.
His consistency and transformation in terms of how he featured for the Bavarian giant were evident in the 2019-20 season where he featured mostly as a centre defender, displaying impeccable speed off and on the ball, as they went on to win a treble.
If Alaba joins for free in January or summer, he’s definitely going to be an immense upgrade in the defense of Los Merengues.
- Pau Torres – (Villarreal)
The Spaniard and Yellow Submarine center defender has proved to be one of the consistent players for Villarreal in the last couple of seasons. Lopez also started each of La Rojas’s final two Nations League games alongside Los Merengues captain, proving himself to be one of the players Luis Enrique could rely on going forward.
With Torres’s display of top-notch performances in LaLiga for the Yellow Submarine, should Real Madrid looks in his direction as the right candidate to step in the shoes of Ramos, he won’t found it difficult to blend in with the team having understood and play in LaLiga for some couple of seasons now.
Every professional footballer always wants to don the white jersey of Los Blancos, for Torres he would want that opportunity and prove himself at the Bernabeu.
However, getting him won’t come quite easy for Madrid, having signed a new contract extension with Villarreal in 2019 to keep him at the club till 2024. His release clause has skyrocketed to €65 million, but if there’s any club that could break the bank to get any player then it’s Real Madrid.
- Dayot Upamecano – (RB Leipzig)
Upamecano may not be as impeccable as Sergio Ramos in terms of leadership skill and goalscoring ability. However, when talking about one of the most consistent, talked about, or sought-after defender in the last two to three seasons, then the Frenchman is definitely high up there following his phenomenal performances for Leipzig in the Bundesliga and European competition.
A lot of elite clubs in Europe’s top-flight has been linked with the Frenchman, amongst them are Manchester United, Bayern Munich, and Manchester City.
Should he continue to turn up impressive performances and stay consistent, it is expected that Los Blancos would likely look towards his direction as a potential replacement for Sergio Ramos.
The 22-year-old has something in common with the Spaniard, he’s fast, strong, aggressive, dominant in the box, and confident on the ball as well. With him and a potential pairing with Varane, then we should expect a deadly combination of two French center backs.
Upamecano can also play as a sweeper, which he often does for Leipzig while attacking, and distributing passes, and build-up play. At his age he’s a decent candidate, who could slot in well for Ramos should he exit Real Madrid.
And with the fact that he’s one of the world’s best young defenders around, it would be quite interesting to see him don the white jersey of Los Blancos and he’s going to be a massive addition given the leadership quality he possesses.
- Milan Skriniar – (Inter Milan)
The Slovakian has been the subject of interest of several top clubs in Europe for many years now, even Barcelona who has been trying hard to find a proper replacement for Gerrard Pique has also been on his case in other to strengthen their backline.
Since Skriniar joined the Nerazzurri in 2017 from Sampdoria he has grown in lips and bound for Antonio Conte’s side.
The Slovakian is just 25 years old, and at that age, he’s definitely at the peak of his career. Should the Real Madrid hierarchy decides to go for him, the former Sampdoria defender won’t come cheap having been one of the best defenders in Seria A, as such Los Blancos should be ready to cough out around €50 to €60 million.
What Real Madrid would enjoy from the Slovakian is his impeccable passing of the ball, dominant skill in the box, and ability to lead the line. He’s one of the decent and potential defenders that could deputize for Sergio Ramos in a long term for Real Madrid.
READ ALSO: Top Ten African Defenders As At 2016-2019
- Jesus Vallejo – (Granada)
When Real Madrid paid €6 million for the signature of Vallejo at the age of 18, he seems to be the next big thing for Los Blanco’s defense.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t hold it with the first team at that age, he was loaned out to Real Zaragoza the same team Los Merengues got him from.
As time goes by, he had stints in Germany with Eintracht Frankfurt where he showed a glimpse of greatness. He also had a stint in England with Wolverhampton under Nuno Espirito Santo, where he departed midway through the 2019-20 season having found playing time hard to come by.
At 23, Vallejo is playing absolutely well for Granada following his departure from Wolverhampton, and with consistent performances for ‘El Grana’, he might be going back to the Santiago Bernabeu to fulfill his dream of playing regularly for Los Merengues.
Most especially with the kind of form Granada showed at the early stage of the season, which made them sat comfortably at the mid-table, could be one of the reasons Madrid would look at bringing him back to the club.
El Grana still very present in the Europa League and Vallejo’s presence in the team would project him well to the world on the big stage. With that Real Madrid would follow him closely, snap him up and he could probably go on to be the next heir to the captain, and legend of the club.
All of the players mentioned here are nothing but hypotheses, that doesn’t mean some of them are not been monitored by Real Madrid, more reason why speculation is fun in football. But in the end, we would see the player that would eventually be the heir to Sergio Ramos.
Super League: Respect & Dialogue Needed To Restore Normality
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, disapproving the concept of Super League
President Gianni Infantino has called for respect and dialogue as he expressed FIFA’s strong disapproval of the proposed European Superleague project, and has requested that the concerned parties consider their position in line with respecting the institutions that exist to protect the interest of national, European, and global football.
“FIFA is an organization which is built on values, the true values of sport,” said the FIFA President in his address to the 45th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.
“It is an organization that is built on our statutes, the statutes that define the institutional framework, with the pyramid, with FIFA, the confederations, the associations, the leagues, the clubs, the players. And at FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove of the creation of a super league which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA, which is outside of the system. There is no doubt whatsoever of FIFA’s disapproval for this.”
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, and a model that he promoted in his 16 years at UEFA:
“FIFA is here, and I am here today as FIFA President, to bring full support to European football, to UEFA, and the 55 member associations of UEFA and of FIFA, to the leagues, clubs, players, and to fans. To all the fans, all over Europe, and actually all over the world as well.”
“We can see that there is a lot to throw away for the short-term financial gain of some,” the FIFA President added. “People need to think very carefully, they need to reflect, and they need to assume responsibility. They need to think not only of their shareholders, but they need to think about all the people, of all the fans, of all those who have contributed to making European football what it is today. It goes back not only decades, it goes back more than one hundred years. People – with love, with passion, with commitment – have created all this. And we need to protect this. It is our task.”
“FIFA is a democratic organization, an organization that is open,” the FIFA President concluded. “Everyone can bring ideas and proposals, but always with respect for the institutions, leagues, associations, UEFA, and FIFA.
With respect for the history and with the respect for the passion of so many people around the world. I understand as well that on these particular days, emotions are very high, but we need to always keep the line. Football is hope, and it is our responsibility to make hope a reality. So we hope that everything will go back to normal and that everything will be settled, but always with acting responsibly, with respect, with solidarity, and always in the interest of national, European, and global football.”
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.