Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has been dealt a dilemma as be bids to replace Angel Di Maria, with Gareth Bale the latest to be shunned by the Madrid support.
Argentine wizard Di Maria finally got his move away from the Spanish captial as he joined Manchester United for a record transfer fee of £59.7 million towards the end of the summer transfer window.
The former Benfica man – commonly known as El Fideo in the Latin world - gradually won his place in the hearts of the Santiago Bernabeu following his breath-taking form towards the end of last season.
The 26-year-old was tasked with being the spearhead of a midfield three, using his pace to break beyond the lines and feed the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in further positions.
His 17 La Liga assists showed his worth, and his performance during the Champions League final proved he – not Ronaldo, Bale or Sergio Ramos – was the heartbeat of the side and integral to their success.
Ensuing the uncertainty over his future and consequent move to the Red Devils, his absence from the Madrid XI has been duly noted as a Spanish Super Cup defeat was followed by a woeful 4-2 defeat at Real Sociedad.
Carlo Ancelotti has big problems as the void to fill is huge, with new signings Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez lacking the drive from midfield to be deemed as suitable replacements.
The Italian coach has experimented, and the latest name to be linked with that unique midfield spot is former Spurs ace Gareth Bale – though it’s a decision which appears unpopular.
In a poll conducted by the Spanish newspaper Marca, 52.3% of Los Merengues support have voted against the Welshman replacing United’s new signing.
So where does Carlo Ancelotti and his staff go from here? Do they abandon their counterattacking system to supplement James Rodriguez into their side – or do they slow their game and feed possession into attacking areas?
Either way, without Di Maria, Real Madrid have notably dropped a level and a failure to beat Atletico Madrid in Saturday’s derby clash will surely pose further questions over his controversial departure.