Borja Mayoral and Real Madrid split: what it means for the reserve striker

These notes – where I look at them Real MadridIts player histories, loan players, Castillas, tactical anecdotes, and other related insights – are now a regular thing. All previous versions can be found over here.


Many Real Madrid fans are hard to understand, but the deep graph at the center of the attack – a position many feel needs to be bolstered by more quality players – continues to fade. After the club sold Luka Jovic – while retaining 50% of his rights and cut losses Borja Mayoral is next in line. Today, Real Madrid confirmed something that had been reported for some time in Spain: the Spanish player was officially sold to Getafe. The fees are reportedly around 10 million.

Mayoral’s story is rather sad, at least for me anyway. He worked hard and patiently waited for his turn, but neither luck nor time. Zinedine Zidane wanted to keep him at the expense of Luka Jovic at the start of the 2020-2021 season; But the Spaniard went to Rome On loan in search of playing time and career development – with the hope of returning as a more polished player to serve the club.

Mayoral rose to prominence in Rome under then coach Paulo Fonseca. He scored 17 goals and made six assists in all competitions. He finished fifth in the Italian league without penalty kicks, compared to 90 goals in the 2020-2021 season. He excelled as a striker, and he crafted his game around his idol, Karim Benzema.

But when the season ended, the coach he believed in at Real Madrid, Zidane, left, and the man who took charge of Roma, Jose Mourinho, pushed him aside. Mayoral’s career stagnated until he went to Getafe on loan mid-season, where he was statistically one of the most efficient strikers in Europe, ranking third (!) in all of the top five European leagues in terms of goals per shot. Mayoral scored the most goals per shot on goal by anyone in La Liga in the 2021-2022 season. (The sample size is small, but it was effective in playing time and touchdowns in Spain.)

But there is another twist of the knife, and this is where Mayoral’s career ends: there were some, even marginal, possibilities that he could have replaced Benzema this season because he wanted to stay, and even hold out. On accepting Getafe’s offer, hoping that Real Madrid would extend an arm. But he would have had trouble finding a place in the team when Mariano Diaz did not want to leave.

Mayoral fits Real Madrid’s profile a little better than Mariano. Stylistically speaking, it could go in as Benzema’s backup more smoothly than the two without an overhaul in the scheme.

But the truth is that Real Madrid is having a hard time finding a home for Mariano, who continues to refuse to leave. Moreover, the club is trying to open places on the list, and quite frankly, and this is an important point: Mayoral does not move the needle much. He’s good, but maybe not good enough to tie him hopelessly when there’s a show for him.

Real Madrid had backup strikers, three of them in fact: Mayoral, Mariano and Jovic. They have more if you count nine wrong choices: Rodrigo Goes, Marco Asensio, Eden Hazard. Two of the three strikers are gone. The third, Mariano, the club will continue to try to move before transfer window Concludes.

And that is the fact of having one of the greatest players in Real Madrid’s history as your starting striker: no one wants to be his assistant, and whoever does, is probably not good enough.

And this next point might hurt Real Madrid fans by reading this: I don’t think opening the door by selling Mayoral necessarily opens the door for a new striker. It may not be. From everything we know in the Madrid administration, it was difficult for the club to find the desired player, and there is a scenario in which they wait until next summer to see what opportunities are available in the market.

There is a real case where they have to make a move for someone, and I see an advantage in signing some of the reported names: Edin Dzeko (experienced, may not ask for much playing time, can remain calm in front of goal when needed despite not playing a lot), Timo Werner (has the ability to relate and might welcome a change of scenery), Raul de Tomas (just a badass striker who can do a lot of good things around the field and is a former player).

But there was no indication that Dzeko or Werner would accept such roles in the team. Perhaps Raul de Tomas, though, will be a risk for him as he enters the peak of his career as a backer for one of the Real Madrid GOATs. All these reports surfaced, but there was no real interest from the club itself in any of these players.

Real Madrid will deal with the option of the reserve striker as they have dealt with most of their transfer strategies in the past few years: pounce on market opportunities they believe in, without entangling players. Like Jovic), it exploded in their faces for reasons we’ve already discussed several times, and they don’t want to make the same mistake again.

If a good deal appears in their eyes, they will take it, but Real Madrid will not look at Benzema’s reserve role desperately as they will still have to incorporate players in Hazard and Asensio, who can take over the false nine role when needed.