A LOOK AT LA LIGA
Once upon a time they kept the bunting under wraps at the Bernabéu for an annual unravelling; just like most of us keep the Christmas decorations under the stairs.
Whenever a major new signing was unveiled, out came the podium, the special ball for the obligatory keepie-uppies and back-drop for the picture with the proud president.
The Galáctico gear has been gathering dust since Gareth Bale signed five years ago and the special events team had to unearth it for the arrival of Eden Hazard this week. It was just like the old days when Luis Figo, David Beckham, or Cristiano Ronaldo jetted into town.
Hazard's arrival is hardly a surprise. He's been hinting since he entered the penultimate year of his contract at Chelsea that he may be moving capitals. Real Madrid are in desperate need of a sprinkling of stardust.
The Belgian brings some much-needed expectation and promise of pleasing a crowd who were bored into submission last season. He's an undoubted world-class talent but he alone can't rejuvenate Real.
Hazard has the same skill set as many existing players. His attributes are similar to those of Isco, Marco Asensio, Lucas Vázquez, Gareth Bale and the forgotten James Rodríguez. He's a crowd pleaser and this is one dissatisfied crowd. Several of those mentioned have tried and failed to get the supporters onto their feet and expect to vacate their locker this summer.
The key to the regeneration may be the other four signings who haven't warranted the laser-show unveiling. The club have targeted potential, with initial fees in the region of 45 to 50 million euros.
Ferland Mendy, 24, is the more senior of the new recruits. His task is to follow in the fast footsteps of Marcelo and his predecessor Roberto Carlos at left-back. As a France international, it appears that he has the approval of Zinedine Zidane.
Éder Militão was the first recruit of Zizou's second coming and a six-year deal suggests that the 21-year-old Brazilian will be given time to develop into a long-term successor to Sergio Ramos.
The signing of Luka Jović is more intriguing. The self-proclaimed 'luckiest kid in the world' has great stats. He recorded 27 goals in 48 matches for Eintracht Frankfurt including five in a single game against Fortuna Düsseldorf and he was the star of the Europa League adventure. He captured the headlines at just the right time.
His references are mixed, though. It's reported that the lesser work-load demands of La Liga would suit his style. The Real Madrid legend Predrag Mijatović, who later spent time as the sporting director, doubts that he was a manager's signing. He confirmed Zidane hadn't spoken to him about a player from his footballing sphere and concluded that his former club were 'signing subs'.
The bench does appear to be the best hope of the other recruit, Rodrygo. He's a teenager who follows Vinícius Júnior from Brazilian football. His development will be similar, especially as he's already aired anxiety about expectations.
Mijatović has a valid point when you consider the other recruit of 2019, Brahim Díaz. His signing from the development squad of Manchester City did grab some headlines and he was given game time upon his winter arrival.
The future is looking much brighter at Real Madrid but it isn't necessarily the immediate future.
Can you really win anything with kids?