Real Madrid‘s preparations for the 2021/22 season got underway on Monday, albeit not with a full squad, while around half of those currently training have uncertain futures and are playing to impress Carlo Ancelotti.
The simple truth is that Los Blancos have too many players and so the Italian coach will be using the early days of his new reign to run the rule over the squad and see who passes to the next round of auditions.
Departures this summer are inevitable, before we even begin to think about possible arrivals, with the name of Kylian Mbappe continuing to resonate and excite.
Starting in goal, the untouchable status of Thibaut Courtois casts doubts on the other ‘keepers, and while the club has faith in Andriy Lunin he needs to play more games. That’s something Ancelotti may look to solve, whether via a loan move or by giving him more games, such as in the Copa del Rey.
At right-back it seems that the spare man is Alvaro Odriozola, with Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez appearing to be the first- and second-choice options for the new boss. The Basque defender may be forced to look elsewhere again, having spent the second half of the 2019/2020 campaign on loan at Bayern Munich.
On the other side it now seems like Marcelo will stay, despite the fact he is unlikely to see regular game time. Ferland Mendy is the first choice, but his request for a wage hike could cause friction between him and the club.
The midfield has several different cases. Martin Odegaard is back with enthusiasm and hopes that the change of coach will mean an upturn in fortunes for him, as he looks to finally have some decent game time in a white shirt after four different loan spells.
Brahim Diaz, meanwhile, impressed so much at AC Milan that Real Madrid are determined to keep him, although another loan deal could be concluded soon. Ultimately, it depends on what Ancelotti makes of him in pre-season.
Then there is Isco, whose time at the club seems to have run its course. The 29-year-old has been given permission to miss the start of pre-season training while his future is sorted out, a future that more than likely lies away from Madrid.
Only three first-team forwards are currently involved in training and only one of those is a certainty to be in the squad for the coming campaign: Rodrygo Goes.
The former Santos player’s progression hasn’t been as explosive as desired, but the club retains a lot of faith in him. That is not the case for Luka Jovic and Mariano Diaz, who Real Madrid are seeking destinations for, although their well-paid contracts could prove a problem in that regard.
The 12 players currently on holiday after or still competing in the Copa America and Euro 2020 are not all certainties to remain at Real Madrid after the summer, either.
Courtois, Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and David Alaba are untouchable. To that list we can safely add Casemiro, Eder Militao and probably Vinicius Junior and Fede Valverde as well.
The doubts concern Eden Hazard, who is injured again, as well as Gareth Bale and Raphael Varane.
There are a lot of things for Ancelotti to sort out, but in the coming weeks we will get a better idea of what his squad for 2021/22 will look like.