By their own lofty standards, Real Madrid failed last season. The club is supposed to compete for — if not win — La Liga every season. They are supposed to beat Barcelona in every Clasico, breeze through contests against bottom-half sides, and make everything look easy.
That didn't quite happen in 2022-23. Los Blancos lost a crucial Clasico, dropped points to mid-table teams, and finished 10 points behind Barca in La Liga. This year, though, there's reason to believe that things could be different. But it really depends on one crucial signing.
Madrid have already been smart in the transfer market, adding Jude Bellingham to bolster an already excellent midfield corps. But the departure of Karim Benzema leaves them with a hole in the front line. Enter, potentially, Kylian Mbappe.
Mbappe's desire to play at Santiago Bernabeu is football's worst-kept secret, and it could - despite the player's insistence he is going nowhere until 2024 - happen this summer. Paris Saint-Germain have put Mbappe up for sale, but at this point, he is determined to play out the final year of his contract at Parc des Princes. Whether Madrid can find the right price also remains up the in air.
There are other narratives swirling around Madrid this season, though, as it seems like an era is coming to an end at various positions — and on the touchline. Carlo Ancelotti will depart this summer to take over as Brazil national team boss, while Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are likely playing their final seasons in Madrid white. Adding Mbappe to an already stacked squad to do something special would make for a perfect end to Ancelotti's reign.
But can they do it? GOAL has a look at the chances of a perfect season in Madrid...