The ‘Alaba formula’ works for Real Madrid

Real Madrid are becoming experts at taking advantage of bargains in the transfer market. The sports management has set its sights on players at the end of their contract, starting last season with Alaba. In view of the great success with the Austrian, they have decided this year to repeat the formula with Rüdiger, a central defender they have already signed until 2026. With the two, who arrive without having to pay for their signature , the club is strengthening its defensive line with two veteran players, with experience in major competitions and having won the Champions League.

There are similarities and differences between the two cases. Alaba was an easier deal as Madrid, seeing Ramos ready to leave, agreed to the Austrian’s demands earlier and the deal was done shortly after the start of 2021. With Rüdiger there was some complications as the club didn’t see the need to have him. Negotiations broke down in January. However, the club decided to reopen them after the clash against Chelsea and that’s when the situation became clearer. Alaba’s salary is slightly higher but it’s an understandable difference considering their respective careers. Commissions, on the other hand, are higher for the German.

The club decided to launch this policy after the hit to cash flow with the arrival of the coronavirus. Despite multi-million dollar signing bonuses or high asking salaries, signing a free agent is, as a rule, more economical. Alaba had a market value of 55 million at the time of his arrival, according to specialist website Transfermarkt. Regardless of the sum of his bonus signing or salary, it would have been significantly more expensive to buy him from Bayern. Rüdiger is currently worth 35 million (pending further update). Also, the transfer fee is amortized over the years of the contract, making it a minor expense in the accounts. For example, Alaba received around 18 million euros and signed for five seasons, so he writes off 3.6 million a year.

Mbappé next on the list?

After Qatar put the brakes on Mbappé’s transfer to Real Madrid last year, the Frenchman arrived in May without an extension and is less than two months from the expiry of his contract. The PSG board remain confident that, having retained him, they could persuade him to stay for a few more years. However, by not selling him, they now run the risk of losing him for free and Real Madrid are ready to take advantage.

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It would be the culmination of an idea: to sign the best player in the world without paying a single euro in transfer fees. It’s obvious that the bonuses and commissions, on top of the salary, will skyrocket if he ends up arriving for free as expected at the Santiago Bernabeu. However, the club would save the 200 million it was ready to pay last year to hire him and his arrival would, in any case, be less expensive. Negotiations are ongoing and it is hoped that after the Champions League final the process can be accelerated.

Real Madrid, which made the heyday of the early years of the 21st century by spending millions on great players, is changing its modus operandi. This is to emulate a model that other clubs like Juventus and Bayern have practiced in the past, although in Los Blancos’ case they only do so with top players. For now, Alaba has been the key to winning La Liga and qualifying for the Champions League final. The certain arrival of Rüdiger and that more than likely of Mbappé will strengthen the workforce to unsuspected levels and at zero cost. The beginnings of a great team that will rule Europe again for the next decade.


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