Real Madrid have given an indication of their trust in new signing Mariano by naming him as the successor to Cristiano Ronaldo in the number 7 jersey of Los Blancos.
The Spanish-born striker returned to the Santiago Bernabeu this week, just one year after leaving the club to join Lyon for €8m. A buyback clause was included in his contract and Real activated this option after Sevilla had a bid accepted last week.
In his previous spell at Real Madrid, Mariano wore the number 18 shirt and only made 14 first team appearances, but it is clear that he is a much bigger part of the club’s plans this time and his shirt number, confirmed by Tiempo de Juego, reflects that.
The number 7 is now synonymous with Ronaldo, who left a lasting legacy at the Bernabeu, becoming the club’s all-time record goalscorer with an unbelievable strike rate of 450 goals in 438 games.
He left to join Juventus for €100m earlier this summer, and Real have been trying to find the man who can replace his goals ever since.
They hope that they have found that man in Mariano, who scored 21 goals in 45 appearances for Lyon in all competitions last season. Julen Lopetegui knows him well, having monitored his progress when he was Spain manager.
Mariano has represented the Dominican Republic once at international level but has not answered the call-up again, as he is determined to play for Spain.
Ronaldo is impossible to replace, but the faith that Real have shown in Mariano will give him confidence that he can live up to his Portuguese predecessor.