Real Madrid have been wrong to leave Mariano Diaz out in the cold… he is one of their most clinical attackers but looks to be heading for the exit door
- Mariano Diaz netted a brace during Real Madrid’s 3-2 win over Villarreal
- Real Madrid brought him back to the club in the summer and gave him No 7 shirt
- Zinedine Zidane may look to cash in on the Dominica Republic international
It says a lot about Real Madrid‘s chaotic season that a player with Mariano Diaz’s efficiency in front of goal has been largely ignored by three different managers.
He has had his injury problems but three starts in La Liga still looks like a poor return. It also speaks volumes that Sunday’s two goals in the 3-2 win over Villarreal will make it more, not less, likely that he will be sold this summer.
‘I don’t have a crystal ball but I want to stay at the club’ said the 25-year-old forward after his brace. He knows if Real Madrid do sign Luka Jovic from Eintracht Frankfurt then he could end up moving to Germany. And even if that does not happen he will go to another club in the summer.
Mariano Diaz netted a brace for Real Madrid at the weekend after being given a rare start
Mariano wheels away in celebration after putting his Real Madrid side in the lead on Sunday
Raphael Varane celebrates with Mariano during Real Madrid’s eventual 3-2 win over Villarreal
MARIANO’S LA LIGA STATS THIS SEASON
From the bench: 10
Last season Sevilla wanted him but the first manager of the season — Julen Lopetegui — was so adamant that the club should sign a striker that Real Madrid made a bigger bid and brought him back to the Bernabeu.
Despite insisting on him, Lopetegui rarely played him and his successor Santiago Solari showed even less faith although, as with Lopetegui, injuries did not help.
Zinedine Zidane, his third manager of the season, has now played everyone of his first team squad at some time since he took over. Mariano and the fit again Vinicius being the last of those to get some minutes.
Mariano doesn’t need many minutes to score, he never has. In his first spell at Real Madrid, before he moved to Lyon in 2017, he averaged a goal every 54 minutes. In France he scored 21 goals in 45 games for Lyon and at the start of this season when Lopetegui threw him on as a late substitute in the Champions League and jokingly told him to ‘stick one in the top corner’ he did exactly that and with Ronaldo’s old number 7 shirt on his back.
‘It’s just a number even though I respect those who have worn it,’ he said after scoring that stunner against Roma. ‘Mariano honours the 7’ read Marca’s headline and Raul — another famous Real Madrid number seven — went down to the dressing room to congratulate him.
Mariano might not have transformed Real Madrid’s season but he would have helped Karim Benzema score the goals the team were lacking without Ronaldo. When he got his goal at the weekend he became the first player other than Benzema to score since March.
He would have given Madrid’s three coaches a tactical alternative too – with Mariano and Benzema they could have played 4-4-2 instead of the 4-3-3 that was designed to get the best out of Ronaldo and has look weak and ineffective this season without him.
He has also has the hunger that has been lacking this season. He made his international debut for Dominican Republic six years ago but admitted last year: ‘It was something that felt right at the time but right now I would love to play for Spain.’
Mariano Diaz could have been the perfect strike partner to fellow forward Karim Benzema
Real may have to sell several fringe players if they can’t move on the likes of Gareth Bale
His form in France meant, in his spell as Spain coach, Lopetegui was close to picking him. He has the energy and aggression of a Luis Enrique player but he needs to play.
With the Bernabeu baying for new names it is more likely he will get those minutes elsewhere. The club are struggling to raise interest in the big name players so rebuilding this summer will need to be funded by the sale of some of the reserves.
There are two games left to play this season – away to Real Sociedad and home to Betis. He may find himself playing in both those games but it will be to generate more interest. ‘He has not had minutes but that has been because he’s been injured,’ said Zidane. That has only been partly true this season and there are no injuries now.
He took just 84 seconds to score at the weekend and his second goal gave him a 50 per cent efforts on target to goals ratio for the club during his two spells. He scores every other time he shoots. Madrid should have made more of that this season, someone else may well do so next.
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