Retired French international footballer Christian Karembeu, who had won the Champions League twice during a three-year spell with the Los Blancos, feels that the absence of Real Madrid should prioritise the signing of AS Monaco's teenage sensation, Kylian Mbappe.
Karembeu is currently an ambassador for La Liga and spoke to Goal ahead of the much anticipated El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday. He feels that the absence of Neymar and Raphael Varane for Barcelona and Real Madrid should not affect the intensity of the crucial game.
"Neymar Jr is missing the game but (Lionel) Messi will be present. Same goes for Real Madrid because they played against Bayern Munich without Varane and they performed very well," he said. "So, I believe the Clasico will be of high intensity and will be highly demanding, actions, shows and I hope (there are) goals, too!"
The 46-year-old went on insist that Zinedine Zidane's success as the coach of Real Madrid had not come as a surprise for him. "I wasn’t surprised. First of all, because he is always committed in what he wants to do. He is a winner, winning is in his DNA. He hates losing. So I think he is managing the team well. He was very humble to come to the Cantera."
"He knows everything as a player and as a coach. I am not surprised. But to succeeded so quick, maybe that was surprising. We all know he is an excellent coach and player," Karembeu added.
When asked as to who Real Madrid should prioritise in the summer transfer window, Karembeu was quick to pick out Kylian Mbappe who has been in scintillating form of late, while also cheekily suggesting that Lionel Messi could also be persuaded to don the white shirt of Real.
"Mr. Perez never disappoints with the signings. He always signs big players. He had his logic of signing all the Ballon Dór winners- Kaka, (Fabio) Cannavaro, Ronaldo, Zidane, (Luis) Figo- all came to Madrid. Maybe he can do that with Messi, you never know!
"The next strategy could be Mbappe. He is young and can improve himself to be better. Mbappe could be the one. But it depends on the election."
Karembeu also criticised the timing of Barcelona coach Luis Enrique's announcement to leave the Catalan club, way before the season ended.
"I think it is not good to announce if he (Luis Enrique) did so. It’s a little bit early. It’s not good because in dressing room, when you control them, they (the players) know that the coach is going. When they are focusing on the championship, it affects the concentration," he explained.
"Also, seeing that Neymar and Messi were confronting some problems, not sport-wise, but personal issues- all of this makes it very confusing in their performance."
The World Cup winner was also of the opinion that Gareth Bale, who is returning from an injury, should not start the El Clasico.