Every club is eager for football to return but perhaps none more so than Real Madrid. It will have been a fraught five weeks for Zinedine Zidane, whose side headed into the shutdown off the back of four defeats in seven games.
Dumped out of the Copa del Rey at home by Real Sociedad and with one foot out of the Champions League following a 2-1 loss to Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu, the season has not gone according to plan.
So much was expected of this new Madrid side following a summer of heavy spending, with £275m forked out on players such as Eden Hazard, Ferland Mendy, Luka Jovic, Rodrygo and Eder Militao.
But with the side trailing Barcelona by two points with 11 La Liga games still to play, Zidane may well have used these dormant weeks contemplating ripping up his attempts at a reboot and starting all over again.
Buzz Sports caught up with Spanish football expert Alvaro Montero to run the rule over the current squad and what could happen this summer…
Lunin expected to challenge Courtois
“Thibaut Courtois will remain No 1. Zidane is happy with him and [club president] Florentino Perez loves him,” Montero told Sky Sports.
“The club’s general director Jose Angel Sanchez – Perez’s right-hand man – has been promoting a transfer policy that is not based on massive expenditure ever since the turn of the century. They are keen to bring in players and turn them into superstars where their values go up.”
Alphonse Areola was brought in by Zidane from Paris Saint-Germain on loan to provide competition for the Belgian, but having failed to oust him from the No 1 spot, neither the player or club will look to make this a permanent arrangement.
Zidane is well-stocked in this department, with the promising Ukrainian Andriy Lunin and the manager’s son, Luca, set to provide additional pressure on Courtois to perform next season.
Montero added: “Real Madrid now feel they can’t compete financially with the money from Manchester City and those clubs backed by Arab countries.
“Lunin didn’t play much at Leganes and Valladolid but they have confidence that he will be a very good goalkeeper in the future.”