The five forwards Real Madrid signed to replace Ronaldo & how they fared

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Real Madrid striker Mariano Diaz playing against Elche, October 2021

Since Cristiano Ronaldo departed in the summer of 2018, Real Madrid have not been the same.

Having just completed a historic Champions League three-peat, which no other team has done in the modern era, curtains were called upon Ronaldo’s nine-year spell at Real Madrid, where he established himself as one of the greatest players of all time.

Neither Real Madrid nor Ronaldo has reached a Champions League final since, and both missed out on their respective league titles in 2020-21.

The Portugal international found moderate success at Juventus, winning two leagues, but did not hit the heights he found in Madrid, before returning home to Manchester United this summer, while Real have tried and failed to replace his goals and influence in the team.

While Real are top of the league and have Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior playing out of their skin, the same cannot be said about some of the other forwards who have attempted to fill the void left by Ronaldo. Here’s who they signed to replace him since he left the Santiago Bernabeu.

Mariano Diaz

The striker, who came up through Real Madrid’s C and B teams, left the club for Lyon in 2017. After scoring 18 Ligue 1 goals, Real brought him back to the Spanish capital for around £20million, and even gave him Ronaldo’s iconic No.7 shirt.

Mariano has spent most of his time on the bench since his return and gave up the No.7 shirt when Eden Hazard arrived a year after him, but he remains at the club.

A bizarre deal all around, and he will surely be looking for a new club in the next transfer window.

Vinicius Junior

Arriving for £40million as a teenager from Flamengo in Brazil, the young winger had a lot of pressure to step up when Ronaldo departed, and struggled initially.

But the 21-year-old has found his confidence and has been one of the best players in Europe this season. With nine goals and three assists in 14 La Liga appearances, he is starting to bring goals from the left wing, which have been lacking for a few years.

He is now one of the first names on the Real Madrid team sheet and recently scored a scorcher to win his team a crucial match against Sevilla. Cristiano who?

Luka Jovic

A powerful centre forward, Jovic arrived as a big-money signing in the summer of 2019 as a 21-year-old, aiming to bring more goals to the side in rotation with Benzema.

He was impressive in his previous season with Eintracht Frankfurt, reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League and scoring 27 goals in all competitions, and Madrid were happy to part with £57million for his services.

However, the deal so far looks to be a disaster. Often on the bench, no thanks to the incredible form of Benzema, the Serbia international has managed just two goals for Real Madrid in 40 appearances and even spent the second half of last season on loan at his old club.

Now back at the Bernabeu, it is rumoured that Jovic will leave the club in the near future. There is still hope for him given his age, but his future almost certainly lies away from Madrid.

Eden Hazard

The first Galactico signing since James Rodriguez in 2014, Hazard was one of the best players in the world at Chelsea and secured 2019 Europa League victory with two goals in the final before making a £100million move to Madrid.

Hazard was the obvious name to replace Ronaldo, given his goal threat from the left wing, superstar status and dribbling ability, but this has arguably been the worst transfer of all these.

Poor fitness, injuries and dreadful form have plagued the Belgian since his arrival, and with just five goals in 54 appearances, he has now lost his starting place to Vinicius Junior.

Like Jovic, Hazard has been linked with a move away, including a potential return to Chelsea, but at 30 years old and on a huge salary, it remains to be seen who would be willing to gamble on a player who was once the deadliest attacker in England.

Luka Jovic for Real Madrid

READ: The six players Real Madrid signed alongside Hazard & how they fared


Another young Brazillian winger signed for £40million, Rodrygo will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Vinicius Junior.

Signed from Santos in the summer of 2019, he has shown glimpses of his potential, with 11 goals and 13 assists for the club in 73 matches.

The 20-year-old will be hoping to make the right-wing spot his own before any potential arrival of Kylian Mbappe next summer.

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