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David Alaba to Real Madrid: Five questions with a Madrid expert

We asked our friends over at Managing Madrid what they thought about the last rumors in the Alaba saga.

FC Bayern Muenchen v VfL Wolfsburg - Bundesliga Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

In recent weeks, Bayern Munich fans have been bombarded with a slew of reports that David Alaba is set to join Real Madrid. While the Spanish giants have been a rumored destination for the Austrian for some time now, it’s hard to tell how plausible these rumors are since we’re not exactly experts on Madrid’s squad planning or their transfer situation.

So to help us out, we got in touch with Om Arvind from our sister site Managing Madrid to answer a few questions for us. Here’s what he had to say on the Alaba saga at the moment:

Does Real Madrid really need David Alaba right now? Where and how would he play, assuming Sergio Ramos stays?

Depends on what you mean by “need.” Technically, all of the relevant positions — LB, CB, DM — have starters. But Real Madrid currently lack immediate depth at left back (Marcelo looks finished at this level) and have been worrying about how to replace the aging Sergio Ramos for some time now. We’ve seen what Madrid have looked like without their captain in key matches and it hasn’t been pretty. Beyond just missing his organization and defensive skills, Real look much weaker against the press without his world class ball progression abilities (he’s currently peaking in long ball percentage and progressive passes p90 in La Liga per fbref).

Nacho has experienced a renaissance of late but will never be the long-term starting option and Éder Militão still appears to be quite green. As far as I can figure, the idea seems to be for Alaba to be a secure backup option in two defensive positions before transitioning into the starting LCB role. I am not sure whether Alaba would be comfortable with this, but I think he would immediately make the team better while allowing Madridistas to breathe easier whenever Ramos is suspended/injured or eventually leaves.

FC Bayern Muenchen v 1. FSV Mainz 05 - Bundesliga
Alaba’s wage demands have been the main reason for stalling of negotiations.
Photo by Lukas Barth-Tuttas - Pool/Getty Images

Salary has been a major sticking point for contract negotiations, do you think Perez will be willing to match Alaba’s large wage demands?

No. The idea is for Alaba to be a bargain transfer, as Madrid can no longer pursue more expensive targets due to COVID-19 finances.

Could Madrid might try to complete a deal in January?

I can see it.

How credible do the rumors (specifically those in the Spanish media) seem to you?

I don’t know if all of the details are, but I think it is true that Real Madrid have some interest. I doubt real negotiations have started at time of writing, though.

Do you have any concerns about this transfer?

  • Wages.
  • Alaba’s satisfaction with being a backup in the short-term, with no real timeline on how “short” that term might be (who knows, Ramos could be the GOAT till he’s 45).
  • If it is true that Alaba also wants to leave to play in defensive midfield (you indicated that this is more likely media fluff) he should go somewhere else - no one is displacing Casemiro under Zidane’s watch.
  • Additionally, Alaba seems to have somewhat of a history of constantly picking up minor injuries. He’s missed time on 14 different occasions since 2017/18, though none of the stretches have been that long. However, I hope you can excuse any excess wariness on my part given the Eden Hazard fiasco.

Huge thanks to Om for taking the time to do a QandA with us! From the looks of it, the Alaba transfer doesn’t exactly seem like a priority for Madrid right now, and it’s pretty unlikely that Perez will pay what Zahavi wants. Where does that leave the deal? Well, I guess we’ll have to wait and find out.

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