Real Madrid have been relying Dani Carvajal for some time at right-back, with the Spanish international winning a place in the side a decade ago now. Yet there is not much in the way of a succession plan, something that Los Blancos may think about addressing sooner rather than later.
Carvajal has had no shortage of injury problems over recent years, finally looking 100% fit in the second half of last season. Nacho Fernandez, Antonio Rudiger and Lucas Vazquez have all filled in at right-back this season and previously.
Alvaro Odriozola was bought for €32m from Real Sociedad back in 2018, but as the only player yet to feature for Los Blancos this season, his future clearly does not lie at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Recent reports coming out of Italy have linked Real Madrid with Lyon defender Malo Gusto, which curiously enough translates as ‘bad taste’ in Spanish. Bayern Munich are also interested.
The 19-year-old is out of contract in 2024 and has become a regular for Lyon over the past 12 months, putting in some impressive performances. All signs suggest that Lyon will try to cash in on him next summer.
🇫🇷Malo Gusto (19)
Current club: 🇫🇷Olympique Lyon
Contract expires: Jun 30, 2024pic.twitter.com/CYgxnnXtTd
— MCFC BLUE FOREVER (@KDB17MCBM) October 11, 2022
Carvajal’s absences have been well-covered by Vazquez and Nacho over the years, but it is worth wondering how long that might last.
Nacho is out of contract next summer too and may look to move on if he does not get sufficient minutes this season. Vazquez appears to be preferred when it comes to the right-back spot if Carvajal is unavailable. Vazquez’s deal is also up in 2024, when he will turn 33. While he has been a loyal servant to Real Madrid, it seems unlikely they will offer a player at his age any more than a year-to-year deal, and possibly not even that. With Carvajal into his thirties and a long history of injuries, it might be wise for Real Madrid to look into a replacement.
Gusto stands out for his driving runs into the opposition half, and his cuts inside and out. Strong and quick, as well as comfortable on the ball, he fits the profile of a modern full-back.
However he can be caught out in defence with indecision or a lack of awareness. He still has to develop his end product in the final third too. While those weaknesses would hinder him at the Bernabeu, he is still developing and could brush up on those sides of his game.
As a potentially low-cost option that could secure the future of the position, it makes sense that Real Madrid would look to move next summer for someone like Gusto to back up Carvajal.
Equally, as a relatively raw player who is just adapting to senior football, it could be a risk to recruit Gusto so early in his career. The case of Odriozola is worthy warning that it can be difficult for youngsters with gaps in their game at Real Madrid, especially when they might be short of minutes to develop in.
If Vazquez remains, it might be wise for Los Blancos to keep tabs on the market and ensure that they recruit the right personality for their side. Depending on his development over the next nine months, Gusto might show that should be him, but currently it looks a risk.