Sound the alarm, it’s Galactico time! Or is it?
Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer from Real Madrid to Juventus has left a gaping hole in the Spanish capital.
Fans expected Florentino Perez to react to the loss of a legend by bringing in a high-profile name capable of wearing Ronaldo’s crown.
Los Blancos’ president promised ‘incredible’ arrivals with Eden Hazard, Mauro Icardi, Neymar and Thibaut Courtois all featuring prominently in various rumour mills.
But let’s be honest, there’s only one Ronaldo.
What I mean to say is that ‘CR7’ is irreplaceable in the current market, at least in terms of omnipotence.
However, if Real Madrid wish to fill the void with a player who fits a similar profile and is also in possession of world-class talent, then perhaps they should look inside their own dressing room.
It is somewhat insulting to refer to Gareth Bale as ‘Diet Ronaldo’ but any comparisons to Real’s all-time top scorer are, by nature, flattering.
Bale’s blend of pace, power, aerial ability and set-piece threat make him the perfect replacement for the departed Ronaldo.
Nobody is truly like the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, but out of the current crop, isn’t Bale the closest in likeness?
The Welshman is similarly keen to shoot on sight, unperturbed by acute angles or ambitious distances.
Will he score 50 goals a season? Probably not.
But there aren’t many that do such a thing — Neymar’s best haul in European football is 39, Icardi’s is 29, Hazard’s is 22.
If Bale stays fit, and that is a gargantuan caveat given his recent record, he has the necessary attributes to top score for a rampant Real side.
Let’s not forget that Real’s tactics, in whatever guise they’ve taken in recent years, have always ended with the instruction – ‘then give it to Ronaldo so he can score’.
We’ve seen Karim Benzema morph from a free-scoring, confident striker to Ronaldo’s personal assistant in the last two campaigns.
The French No9 scored just five league goals in 32 appearances last season.
You can’t really argue with this approach; Ronaldo is just that bloody good.
But now that the Portuguese phenomenon will be bothering the defences of Serie A, Bale has an opportunity to claim the role of primary goalscorer.
Free-kicks and penalties are up for grabs, that’s another six or seven goals for the tally potentially.
Basically what I’m saying is, if Real do sign Hazard, in this window or the next, the Belgian should be free from the burden of Ronaldo’s shadow because Bale is the natural heir, from a footballing perspective at least.
Being a favourite of Julen Lopetegui, Isco is likely to occupy a more prominent role this coming season.
And many fans will be hoping to see more of Marco Asensio.
Benzema’s long-term future remains in doubt but competition for places in Real’s front line promises to be fierce either way.
Despite his achievements, some believe Bale has ultimately underwhelmed in Madrid.
With Ronaldo now in pastures new, this coming season could be the Welshman’s greatest ever.
If his body allows it.