Real Madrid are currently suffering through one of their worst seasons in recent memory.
Their current slump, most recently seen in their 3-0 away loss to Eibar at the weekend, means that there could be a big summer of change, if the second half of the 2018/19 continues like the first half.
Something’s got to give.
While Santiago Solari looks to be turning things around slowly, there are several big names whose first team berths are no longer assured.
With rumours that the likes of Eden Hazard could be coming next summer, here are five stars who may not be kept around much longer at the Santiago Bernabeu.
1. Gareth Bale
Since joining Real Madrid in September 2013, for a then world record transfer fee, Gareth Bale has blown both hot and cold.
Often resigned to the treatment room, Bale’s career at Real has been plagued by injury and his future in the Spanish capital is in jeopardy.
An undeniably mercurial talent, if Bale can find consistency in his game and stay fit he’ll be a certified starter. But at the moment, he clearly doesn’t have the backing of the Real Madrid faithful, as painfully summed up in Marca’s recent polling.
If his inconsistency holds up and if he fails to take up the mantle left by Cristiano Ronaldo, a move away from Real Madrid in the summer looks likely.
2. Karim Benzema
Whatever you may think of Karim Benzema, his numbers don’t lie. His brace against Viktoria Plzen in Real Madrid’s Champions League outing has taken him past the 200-goal mark for the club. He’s only the seventh player to do so at Real Madrid.
Having said that, the French number nine still has his detractors and he’ll be looking at a potential summer exit unless he can pull his numbers up. He hasn’t scored 20+ goals since the 2015/16 season, when he scored 28 in 36 total appearances.
With Real Madrid still seemingly struggling for form, and Ronaldo now plying his masterful trade at Juventus, the 30-year-old could be sold to make room for new, younger, hungrier attacking reinforcements.
3. Keylor Navas
A mainstay between the sticks for Real Madrid since arriving from Levante in the 2015/16 season, Keylor Navas has been an outstanding goalkeeper for the club, especially when you think that he had to take over from club legend Iker Casillas.
Despite his undoubted quality and three Champions League medals, his position has been usurped by Thibaut Courtois, whose arrival from Chelsea means that Navas will either have to play for his place or make his peace with cup appearances if he wants to stay. However, a stopper of his skill and experience is wasted playing second fiddle.
With the experienced Kiko Casilla as an understudy, plus the opportunity to promote the growth of young academy graduate Luca Zidane, maybe the time has come for Navas to finally seek pastures new.
4. Luka Modrić
Luka Modrić is quite possibly one of the best midfielders of his generation, a world-class talent, and surely one of Croatia’s greatest all-time players.
With a wealth of honours at club, country, and individual level – receiving the Golden Ball after leading Croatia to the 2018 World Cup final, the Best FIFA Men’s Player of 2018 and Ballon d’Or – the highly-decorated playmaker shouldn’t be going anywhere, right?
Well, not necessarily. Rested at the start of this season, Modrić has mainly made substitute appearances because of the World Cup. At 33, Modrić is no spring chicken.
With a contract until 2020 that is showing no signs of being renewed, perhaps it would make sense for Real Madrid to cash in on their mini-maestro while his stock is still high.
He hasn’t been playing to his potential of late, and if Inter resurrect the interest they showed in him during the summer, maybe a move to Serie A would suit all parties.
5. Lucas Vázquez
The right-winger has struggled to nail down a regular place at Real Madrid, with only 16 starts in La Liga last season, and a further 17 substitute appearances.
Under Zinedine Zidane, Vázquez managed nine goals and 10 assists in all competitions last season, which, for a club like Real, isn’t necessarily anything to write home about.
This season, the 27-year-old winger has yet to score in 16 appearances in all competitions, and with rising starlet Vinícius Jr. breathing down his neck, Vázquez could be forced to make way for the Brazilian.
Coupled with the rumours of Eden Hazard and Neymarbeing linked to the club, Vázquez may have to be sold by the Spanish giants if they are to make next season a success.