Alaba In, Ramos Out: Is That Smart Business from Real Madrid?

After 16 years at Real Madrid, Los Blancos announced that Sergio Ramos will leave the club this summer. The Spaniard, who is out of contract at the end of June, will depart the world-famous club after making 671 appearances. Despite wanting to put pen to paper on a new deal, the 35-year-old couldn’t agree on terms with Madrid’s president, Florentino Perez.

Madrid supporters won’t welcome Ramos’ departure, but Alaba’s pending arrival will excite them. The Austrian will join the Spanish giants on a free transfer after the 2020 European Championships, and the pressure will be on the 28-year-old to fill Ramos’ boots. But does this transfer policy represent sensible business from Madrid?

The Start of a New Era

It’s no secret that Perez is a divisive figure at the Santiago Bernabeu. Madrid’s long-standing president is stubborn in his approach, and he seemingly wasn’t prepared to compromise to keep Ramos, the club captain, beyond his current deal. According to Spanish football expert, Guillem Balague, Perez wanted the 35-year-old out of the club and only offered Ramos a one-year extension despite the Spaniard wanting a two-year deal. Despite the 35-year-old’s success with Los Blancos, Madrid’s decision to recruit Alaba didn’t put him in a strong bargaining position.

On paper, Ramos’ imminent departure from the Bernabeu marks the end of an era for Madrid. Apart from Marcelo and Karim Benzema, many of the team’s long-standing players have recently left, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Iker Casillas. However, this is part and parcel of sport. Alaba’s arrival, combined with the recent return of Carlo Ancelotti as manager, marks the start of a new period. As such, this should excite the Bernabeu faithful.

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Replacing Leadership with Versatility

From a financial standpoint, replacing Ramos with Alaba is a sensible decision. On his previous deal, the Spaniard reportedly earned $24.4 million a year. The Austrian, meanwhile, will make $14.3 million each year. Few can argue that the 35-year-old didn’t warrant a high wage, scoring 101 goals across his 671 appearances for Madrid. Moreover, he also chipped in with 40 assists, winning 5 league titles and 4 Champions Leagues along the way. Aside from being a big-game player, the 35-year-old is also a natural leader, and that’s where Los Blancos will likely feel the effects of his departure.

Take nothing away from Alaba, however. In years gone by, the Austrian has captained Bayern Munich, while also wearing the armband for the national team. That said, the 28-year-old’s main strength lies in his versatility. Over the years, Alaba has played in 7 different positions, including at center back in Bayern’s 2019-20 Champions League triumph. The 5,11 defender will hope to use his European experience to take Madrid back to the pinnacle in 2021-22. As of June 17th, Los Blancos are 14/1 in Champions League betting to win the sought-after competition next season, even without Ramos in their ranks.

Should Perez Have Done More to Keep Ramos?

Perez is portrayed as something of a villain within the football world, but he may have made the right call regarding Ramos’ future. The Spaniard missed 35 games between October 17th, 2020, and May 21st, 2021. Moreover, with Alaba joining the club, it presented a chance to free up some of the club’s wage bills. Madrid will miss the 35-year-old, but he departs with his legacy intact.

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