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Real Madrid faces life without Ronaldo

As Cristiano Ronaldo begins a promising new era with Juventus, a period of insecurity begins for the team he left.

Real Madrid, Europe's most successful club, must find a way to reinvent after watching one of Football's biggest players say goodbye.

Ronaldo joined Italian champion Juventus on Tuesday and left Madrid without his biggest star – and the more than 50 goals he spelled per season in his nine years in Spain.

"Ronaldo will always be one of Real Madrid's biggest icons," said the club.

Life without Ronaldo will certainly not be easy for the Spanish power plant.

Here's a closer look at the challenges facing Real Madrid:


] Replace Portugal ahead ̵

1; voted the world's best players in the last two years – becomes virtually impossible. The only other player on the same level is Barcelona's Lionel Messi, which is not even considered an option to switch to rival Madrid.

The third best player in the world last year was Neymar, who was transferred from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain last year for a record fee of 222 million euros (now 260 million dollars). Neymar would give Madrid a high profile name comparable to Ronaldo, but not everyone believes the 26-year-old Brazil can deliver the same results on the field.

The fans' concerns with Neymar also increased during the World Cup as he sometimes made more headlines for game performers than his performances with Brazil, eliminated by Belgium in the quarterfinals.

The fan's favorite in Madrid seems to be Kylian Mbappe, the 19-year-old star who has helped France reach the World Cup final in Russia. Mbappe would give Madrid a top name that could attract headlines and is a promising talent that could be enjoyed for almost a decade at the highest level.

Even before Ronaldo sealed his transfer to Juventus on Tuesday, there was rumors that Madrid was looking for the possibility of signing either Neymar or Mbappe. But last week, the club released official statements that refused to make any offers to sign a player, called media reports "completely false" and "completely invalid."


If Neymar and Mbappe are not an option, Madrid can watch other players who have done well at the World Cup, including Belgium's Eden Hazard and England's Harry Kane.

Kane plays in a similar position as Ronaldo, and theoretically, would give more meaning than Hazard, who is more of a game maker and an attacking midfielder. Kane, at the age of 24, is three years younger than Hazard, and his full potential is still largely unknown.

Juventus paid $ 112 million ($ 131.5 million) for Ronaldo, not a huge high-paying fee according to the latest standards, and Madrid club president Florentino Perez has not spent much on profiled signings in recent seasons.

Madrid focuses its money on young people to try to build a base for the future. It recently signed 22-year-old Spain right back Alvaro Odriozola and spent a total of 90 million euros (105 million dollars) for a pair of talented 17-year-old Brazilian players – Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior. Vinicius Junior joins the club this season, while Rodrygo is expected to come sometime next year.


Madrid's current options for the attack are 28-year-old Gareth Bale and 30-year-old Karim Benzema. Both have spent a lot of time on the bench under the coach Zinedine Zidane.

New manager Julen Lopetegui, who came to his fantastic dismissal from Spain's national team before the World Cup, will also watch 27-year-old Lucas Vazquez and 21-year-old Borja Mayoral, a regular in Spain's youth camp. Other attacking options for Lopetegui include Francisco "Isco" Alarcon and Marco Asensio, who have played in the fake No. 9 position earlier.

The team's center will remain the same, with Casemiro protecting the defense behind Tony Kroos and Luka Modric. The defense should also be stuck with Sergio Ramos, who plays with Raphael Varane, flanked by Dani Carvajal and Marcelo. Keylor Navas will remain in goal, but the rumors of the club wanting to replace him are likely to continue for another season. Madrid recently signed 19-year-old Ukrainian goalkeeper Andriy Lunin.

Whatever comes to the attack, it's a difficult task to even come close to Ronaldo's success with Madrid. He left as the Spanish club's leading score with 451 goals in 438 matches, making it win four Champions League titles, including the last three in a row.

Ronaldo said that his time with Madrid was the happiest of his life. Now it's still to see how Madrid and its fans will feel without their biggest star.

More AP Spanish Football Coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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