LONDON – Real Madrid’s failure to bring in a top-class replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo has hurt them, and the Spanish giants must reinforce their squad in January to turn things around, former winger Steve McManaman has told Reuters.
Ronaldo, with 451 goals in 438 games in all competitions, was Real’s all-time top scorer before he left to join Serie A’s Juventus during the close season.
While there were early signs that Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio would shoulder more of the scoring burden that proved short-lived with Real going more than eight hours without a goal at one point.
McManaman, who made 272 league appearances for Liverpool before moving to Real Madrid in 1999, said he had expected Real to bring in a top-class replacement for the Portuguese and was stunned when they did not.
“Everybody was surprised, weren’t they?” McManaman, who works as a La Liga ambassador, told Reuters in an interview. “They took a long, long time to bring in new signings. They didn’t bring anyone to replace Cristiano.
“It was a big shock for everybody. Whether they could buy somebody of his quality I don’t know. The fact that they didn’t bring anybody in and they did slow business in the centre forward area, it surprised everybody.”
Ronaldo helped the club to four of the last five Champions League titles, providing the class and the goals when they needed it most.
McManaman said Paris Saint-Germain’s 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe, who impressed during France’s World Cup-winning run in Russia, would have been the ideal replacement.
“Of course, wanting somebody and trying to buy them are two completely different things,” said the 46-year-old, who won two Champions League and Spanish league titles at Real.
“He’s an exceptional player, he’s very young, so he could have a long, successful career.
“It’s impossible that PSG will sell somebody like Mbappe to a rival like Real Madrid.”