How Real Madrid could line up without Ronaldo

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The Portuguese forward has left the Spanish side after nine seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu and here is how Los Blancos could play in his absence

Cristiano Ronaldo is now part of the past at Real Madrid. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner moved to Juventus this week in a huge transfer deal and for the first time since 2009, Los Blancos will have to plan their line-up without him.

The Portuguese forward has been a fixture in the starting XI for the Spanish side over the past nine seasons. Since signing from Manchester United, he has been the team's biggest star.

Ronaldo hit an incredible 450 goals in his 438 appearances for Real, winning 16 trophies in that time, including four Champions League crowns in the past five seasons and three in a row under Zinedine Zidane.

But Zidane left the club after Los Blancos beat Liverpool in Kiev and he has been replaced by former Spain coach Julen Lopetegui , who was then  sacked by the national team prior to the World Cup after Madrid made his appointment public.

And now Ronaldo has departed as well, leaving Real without their coach or their star player from the past two-and-a-half seasons, with a time of change now lying ahead for the 13-time European champions.

Lopetegui's first big job will be to replace Ronaldo and whoever Real bring in this summer, that player will have very sizeable shoes to fill. Cristiano's 450 goals, a club record, and Champions League pedigree, make him an almost impossible act to follow.

Nevertheless, Madrid must move on as they have in the past following the departure of other huge icons such as Alfredo Di Stefano, Paco Gento, Raul and more. The biggest club in the world cannot rest on its laurels.

So as they think about rebuilding for the 2018-19 season, here is a look at how Real Madrid could line up in the coming campaign without Ronaldo in their team... 


WITH NEYMAR IN THE RONALDO ROLE


Real Madrid with Neymar

Lopetegui likes to play 4-3-3 and if Neymar is signed as a replacement for Ronaldo, it would be a like-for-like swap with the Brazilian on the lett side of Real Madrid's three-man forward line.

Although he spent much of his time as a centre-forward latterly, Cristiano liked to cut in from the left and that is also the preferred position of the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

Neymar spent four seasons as a left-sided attacker at Barcelona and also operates in that role for his national team, so he could come in to play the Ronaldo role in a three-pronged attack alongside Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, although Lopetegui has other options including Isco, Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez.


MBAPPE ON THE RIGHT, BALE ON THE LEFT


Real Madrid with Mbappe

Kylian Mbappe is one of the sensations of this summer's World Cup and he is a player Real Madrid were keen to sign last summer. However, he moved to PSG instead and is now the most exciting youngster around.

Madrid were unable to put together a package to match PSG a year ago, but with Ronaldo off their wage bill, Los Blancos could perhaps bring in the France forward this summer.

The 19-year-old attacker could start on the right for Real, with Gareth Bale moving back to his previous position on the left, where he made his name at Tottenham but has rarely featured in Spain due to the presence of Ronaldo.


HAZARD OUT WIDE


Real Madrid with Hazard

Eden Hazard is another alternative for Real Madrid this summer as a Ronaldo replacement and the Belgium forward has left the door open to a move by saying he would love to play for Los Blancos.

The Chelsea attacker has spent six seasons in London and may feel the time is right to move on, even though his idol Zidane is no longer coach at the Santiago Bernabeu.

As with Neymar, Hazard could slot in on the left where Ronaldo used to play, having said last season that his preferred position is out wide and not as a central playmaker or a false nine.


GIVE ASENSIO A CHANCE TO SHINE 


Asensio in Ronaldo role

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Asensio is one of the world's most exciting young players, yet he has found opportunities in the starting XI somewhat limited at times due to the sheer competition for places at Real Madrid.

With Ronaldo now gone, it could be the ideal time for the 22-year-old to be handed a starting spot and Lopetegui is certainly a big admirer of the former Mallorca midfielder.

Having scored 10 and 11 goals respectively in each of the past two seasons, he would be expected to improve on those figures, but should be able to increase his strike rate with more minutes on the pitch.

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