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Who will be Mourinho’s Milito this year?
Should Real Madrid have stepped in and taken Zlatan Ibrahimovic off Barcelona’s hands instead of AC Milan?
Perhaps a preposterous idea, but after the opening round of matches in La Liga, Real may be concerned they did not heed coach Jose Mourinho’s warnings about the need for a third striker.
Mourinho’s league debut ended with an uninspiring 0-0 draw away to Real Mallorca on Sunday, which was in sharp contrast to Barcelona’s supremely confident 3-0 victory at Racing Santander.
Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain, Real’s top scorer last season, led the line and blew the best of his side’s chances, perpetuating the idea that he is sometimes profligate in front of goal.
Karim Benzema did little to change the story when he came on as a substitute. The France striker still has much to prove at the Bernabeu after a discrete first season in Spain.
Cristiano Ronaldo huffed and puffed, and shot when perhaps he could have passed, but Mourinho has already said he doesn’t want to play his Portuguese compatriot as a number nine.
Mourinho’s teams have typically been led by strong target men, such as Didier Drogba at Chelsea and Diego Milito and Ibrahimovic at Inter Milan, and it remains to be seen whether Higuain or Benzema can be converted to play a similar role.
Raul’s exit to Schalke has left Real with a raft of players who like to slip in behind the forward – “mediapuntas” – such as Mesut Ozil, Sergio Canales, Kaka and Rafael van der Vaart, but there are only two out-and-out number nines.
There is talent in abundance in their ranks but they perhaps lack a ‘killer’ up front.
“I’m disappointed because we had clear chances to score and we didn’t take them,” Mourinho said after the Mallorca game.
After purchasing another six players, on top of the eight they signed last year, Real’s sporting director Jorge Valdano has ruled out any further moves in the transfer market. Could they be missing the last piece in the jigsaw?
PHOTO: Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho gestures during their Spanish first division match against Real Mallorca at the Iberostar stadium in Palma de Mallorca August 29, 2010. REUTERS/Albert Gea