Cristiano Ronaldo is 29 years old and being linked to a move away from Real Madrid. Naturally, that has led to speculation about who will replace him at the Bernabeu. And over at ESPNFC, Julian Green made their list.
Green ticks all the boxes for Real Madrid -- the mere thought of a United States international and the impact that could have economically will have the Bernabéu money men reaching for a stiff drink. And the former Germany under-19 international does the business on the pitch as well. He featured for the U.S. at the World Cup, banging in an extra time volley against Belgium two minutes after coming off the bench to become the youngest World Cup scorer since one Lionel Messi in 2006. Comparisons there may be a little premature, but Green is a potential superstar no doubt, and perhaps the key to 'soccer' finally cracking that pesky American market.
Now the United States is very excited about Green. He is 19 years old, a World Cup goal scorer and is highly though of by Bayern Munich. That is rare for the U.S.
But it is not overly rare for Real Madrid. Nor does it matter if it is or not because a player like Green isn't signing for Real Madrid.
That Green would even be on Real Madrid's possibilities list, at this point, is ridiculous. He hasn't even played a dozen professional matches yet and he didn't make the Bayern Munich first team. Faced with a lot of bench time, Green chose to go out on loan and Bayern were happy to send him off for playing time. He is exceedingly promising, but he is nothing more than that right now. And Real Madrid doesn't do just "promising."
When Real Madrid bought Ronaldo, he was arguably the best player in the world, starring for Real Madrid. Gareth Bale was the FWA Footballer of the Year when the Merengues came calling. James Rodriguez had starred for Porto and Monaco, then won the Golden Boot at the World Cup. Before that, Zinedine Zidane was a World Cup and Ballon d'Or winner and Kaka was named World Player of the Year when they moved to the Bernabeu.
Real Madrid does not replace its stars with projects. They don't lean on potential. They don't go after the Julian Greens of the world.
If Real Madrid are going to buy a Ronaldo replacement from Bayern Munich, it is far more likely they poach Thomas Muller or Mario Gotze than it is they buy Green, and they are unlikely to buy Muller or Gotze.
There is no doubt that Green could be great and that Real Madrid would love to buy an American star. But if we're talking about a Ronaldo replacement, Green isn't going to be that guy. He's not going to be that good, that soon. Maybe one day, but that requires a lot of projection, a lot of faith and significantly more time than a Ronaldo replacement would get.
The list isn't much of a list of Ronaldo replacements. It's a list of promising young players who could one day be among the world's best. That is a list Green can make and he did. It was just mislabeled.