The Spanish transfer window is closed and Real Madrid fans will have mixed feelings about their club’s business this summer.

Jude Bellingham arrived for a fee that could rise to a club record, along with Arda Guler, Fran Garcia, Joselu and goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga after Thibaut Courtois’ anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. But Madrid were again made to wait for Kylian Mbappe, despite the forward telling Paris Saint-Germain in June that he would not extend his contract at the French club beyond next year.

So what do our experts think about their window? Real Madrid writers Mario Cortegana and Guillermo Rai discuss.

Real Madrid’s major transfers


Jude Bellingham — Borussia Dortmund, €103m
Arda Guler — Fenerbahce, €20m
Fran Garcia — Rayo Vallecano, €5m
Kepa Arrizabalaga — Chelsea, loan
Joselu — Espanyol, loan


Antonio Blanco — Deportivo Alaves, €4m
Alvaro Odriozola — Real Sociedad, €3m
Karim Benzema — Al Ittihad, unknown
Marco Asensio — Paris Saint-Germain, free
Jesus Vallejo — Granada, loan
Reinier — Frosinone, loan
Rafa Marin — Alaves, loan
Eden Hazard — released
Mariano Diaz — released

Fees according to Transfermarkt

The best piece of business this summer is…

Mario Cortegana: Without a doubt, Bellingham signing from Borussia Dortmund. Despite his price tag and the number of midfielders Madrid already had at their disposal, the England international’s impact since joining in pre-season has been hugely impressive.



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That was what sources at Valdebebas, Real’s training ground, told us when the team returned to training. We saw it first-hand during their pre-season tour of the United States, and the start of the La Liga season has only confirmed it.

Bellingham has scored four goals and provided one assist in his first three games. He has fitted in seamlessly to the diamond system head coach Carlo Ancelotti largely constructed for him and has shown himself to be a true leader at 20 years old.

His arrival underlines an idea that is often repeated at Valdebebas: good things are never expensive.

(David S Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Guillermo Rai: With a big signing such as Bellingham, Madrid look to a player’s personality and their potential impact on the business. The Englishman already looks set to deliver on both fronts.

Madrid were confident Bellingham would adapt to the club’s often harsh surroundings, but in a short period the midfielder has understood how things work in the Spanish capital, built up good relationships with his team-mates and emerged as a charismatic figure in front of the cameras.

With no more new Galacticos and the redevelopment of the Santiago Bernabeu stadium to be completed in December, Bellingham’s impact is even more important. He has become a team spokesman and is learning Spanish, while Madrid have looked to make the most of the Bellingham effect on their social media channels.



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That is why, since the beginning of the window and to dodge rumours about Mbappe’s potential arrival, the club have repeatedly emphasised that “Bellingham is the signing of the summer”.

The problem they don’t look to have solved is…

Cortegana: There are several, but the main one is in attack. Karim Benzema scored 31 goals and provided six assists last season, while Marco Asensio scored 12 goals and provided eight assists. Both players have left this summer — Benzema moved to Al Ittihad and it is unclear whether a fee was paid for him, while Asensio joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.

Joselu is a good addition on loan from Espanyol as a backup striker, but not as a first-choice option. Brahim Diaz returned from his three-year loan spell at AC Milan but has to adapt to the team and does not stand out for his goalscoring figures.



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Then there is Guler, whose arrival from Fenerbahce was marred by a knee injury that has forced him to undergo surgery. His talent is evident, but he will need time to develop and settle.

Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo do not appear to be enough up front, even if the latter continues to take huge strides forward. The problems deepened this week, with Vinicius Jr to be sidelined for an extended period with a thigh injury.

(Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

Rai: The issue seems to have been a lack of world-class No 9s available on the market. No clear alternatives have emerged that fully convince Madrid’s directors, even though Ancelotti’s technical staff would love to bring in another striker.

After bad experiences such as that of Luka Jovic — who cost €60million from Frankfurt in 2019 and never settled — Real want players who offer a safer bet of success. It is also worth bearing in mind that Endrick will join from Palmeiras next summer and that Mbappe has still not renewed at PSG and could be released in 2024.

The deal I still don’t quite understand is…

Cortegana: All of them seem good to me. It might have been wise to sign another left-back instead of Garcia, who looks nervous and not fully up to speed with the rest of the team after returning to Madrid from Rayo Vallecano. But his signing also makes sense as he was a decent option who came up in the market and he is a true Madridista with room for improvement.

Rai: Guler’s signing. Madrid are constantly signing the best midfielders and they still have Luka Modric and Toni Kroos. Though Guler can play in more advanced positions, it is hard to see him finding a place in the starting XI in the short term when he returns from injury.

Real could have spent the same amount (which could be up to €30m with add-ons) on a player with a better eye for goal. But the fee for Guler is not too much for a club of Madrid’s standing and the Turkey international is the kind of extraordinary midfielder, like Mesut Ozil, that Los Blancos like so much. It also went down well with Madrid fans given they beat Barcelona to Guler’s signature.

(Michael Gonzalez/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The one who got away is…

Cortegana: A lot of strikers. Ancelotti asked to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham Hotspur in a meeting at Valdebebas with president Florentino Perez and general manager Jose Angel Sanchez on June 1. But the reality is they did not want to take any further steps after being given an approximate idea of the price and avoided more tough negotiations with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.



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They did not make a real push for Lautaro Martinez, the Inter Milan striker who they asked for reports on and held several conversations about. They made even less of an effort for Frankfurt’s Randal Kolo Muani — because, as The Athletic reported, the price would have been between €90m to €100m and they feared another “Jovic case”.

There was no move for Roberto Firmino, who would have been an affordable option after his Liverpool contract expired. The same was true for Romelu Lukaku, who Chelsea wanted to get rid of at any cost and who was offered to Madrid before joining Roma on a season-long loan.

(Matteo Ciambelli/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Rai: Mbappe. He is one of the very few options who would put the team on another level and Madrid would have tried to sign him if all the conditions had been met and the player was within reach. But his contract (which runs until at least 2024) and stance on his future prevented the club from going for him, despite PSG having been much more open to a sale this summer.



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The signing fans will be most envious of is…

Cortegana: Kane to Bayern. I see Madridistas on Twitter hurting with every goal he scores and assist he provides in Germany.

Rai: Totally agreed. Fans know Kane would have been a surefire signing who would instantly improve the team. He was the elite striker with the style most similar to Benzema in terms of his play inside and outside the box. Going to Bayern shows that his signature was achievable this summer, which makes it even more painful for supporters that Real did not go for him.

I can’t believe that…

Cortegana: Madrid have begun the season with just Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo, Diaz and Joselu as their attacking options. For a third summer in a row, they failed to sign a proven forward up front when they were crying out for one.

Rai: I can’t believe Ancelotti really believes Bellingham is going to be Benzema’s replacement — as the Italian has said on a few occasions.

The Englishman can become his team’s leader, a more attacking player and improve on his numbers in Germany. But to demand more than 30 goals a season as well as defensive responsibilities from a midfielder seems not only unfair but irrational.

My early tip for January is…

Cortegana: I don’t believe much in the benefits of the winter market and I know that the club feel the same way, but I would sign a striker.

I also fear a defender might be needed. After Eder Militao’s anterior cruciate ligament injury, Madrid only have three centre-backs: Antonio Rudiger, David Alaba and Nacho Fernandez. Rudiger or Alaba especially could also get injured and there is the risk of matches being missed through suspension. Ferland Mendy and Aurelien Tchouameni could help in that position, but it is far from an ideal situation.

(Marco Steinbrenner/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Rai: Given the club’s seemingly unwavering policy of bringing in the best young players, my advice for January would be to consider signing someone who fits that profile at centre-back or in attack. The midfield is well stocked in terms of talent but there are more pressing needs now in defence and attack.

The club’s strongest XI now is…

Cortegana: (4-4-2 diamond) Arrizabalaga; Dani Carvajal, Rudiger, Alaba, Mendy; Tchouameni; Federico Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga; Bellingham; Rodrygo and Vinicius Jr.

Rai: I would say the same, but with Garcia instead of Mendy at left-back.

(Top photos: Getty Images)