It will take more than Huntelaar to save Real’s season
Real Madrid appear to need more than the couple of ‘youngsters with a future’ their president Ramon Calderon has promised for January if their season is not going to drift away from them.
Ajax striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar will be the first new arrival after Real came to an agreement to sign him, but he will not have been impressed with Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Getafe.
Real, already out of the King’s Cup, put on probably their worst display of the campaign and coach Bernd Schuster hit the nail on the head when he said the scoreline flattered them. They are now six points off leaders Barcelona.
A lengthy injury list is one of their problems.
Ruud van Nistelrooy has been ruled out for the season and fellow forward Gonzalo Higuain was missing against Getafe. Midfielders Ruben de la Red, Arjen Robben and Mahamadou Diarra, and defenders Gabriel Heinze and Fabio Cannavaro were also laid low.
Wesley Sneijder, Miguel Torres and Pepe picked up new injuries on Saturday while the fit players showed a worrying lack of fight.
Two of Spain’s Euro 2008 heroes, Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas, were at fault in Getafe’s first and second goals, and the talented Guti had another of his all-too-familiar away days.
Fernando Gago gave the ball away too easily, Royston Drenthe tried hard but failed to open up the flanks, and new signing Rafael van der Vaart has yet to impress –Schuster seems unsure as to which position to play him in.
It will be a tough situation for a youngster to walk into.
Fans will expect an immediate impact from a new arrival as the Bernabeu faithful are annoyed with the club for continually overlooking the youth team. Young striker Alberto Bueno has been used sparingly, but has the backing of the supporters.
A winger is reported to be club’s next target, though the lack of options in defence also needs addressing.
Media have linked the club with Lazio’s Argentine striker Mauro Zarate and Brazilian Keirrison of Coritiba. Benfica’s Argentine winger Angel Di Maria and Zenit St Petersburg’s Andrei Arshavin are listed as other objectives.
Will Huntelaar or any of these names help Real catch an effervescent Barcelona in the Primera Liga and buck up in Europe? Or do their problems run deeper?
Klaas Jan Huntelaar (L) of the Netherlands scores past Vitaliy Mandzyuk of Ukraine during a friendly match in Rotterdam May 24, 2008. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen