Short answer is No.
And here is why.
First, it is undeniable that losing Pepe, whom I rate as one of the best center backs in the world, is a big blow not only to Real Madrid but also to his national team. However, losing him doesn’t mean that Real must look in the market for a replacement because that’s, although a normal reaction, couldn’t be beneficial to the club and especially its defenders.
Looking at the current first team squad, we have three pure center-backs in Albiol, Metzelder and Garay which means a replacement for Pepe is not extremely needed — but still, depending on three center-backs for a team like Madrid who competes for La Liga and Champions League simultaneously is pretty crazy.
To begin with, Albiol is burnt out and the effects are going to show very soon. He has been over used by Pellegrini and was rarely rested, which means and as happened with Kaka, he could get injured soon.
Additionally, Metzelder whom as of writing this is fit — doesn’t usually stay healthy for the whole season. It would be weird If he didn’t pick up an injury so yet again counting on him is not the best thing you want to do.
This leaves us only with one healthy and young man to have faith in; Garay. The young Argentine defender was signed two seasons ago but he spent a whole season on loan with Santander and moved to the Spanish capital this summer. He has only started and played in a few games but showed a lot of promise and potential.
Can he replace Pepe?
I say yes.
He is in no way as solid as Pepe, but with Ramos, Arbeloa and Albiol, he can do a good job. A good defense is not about good individuals, it is about a group of players who communicate properly and work together. For me, I’d prefer to have four Castilla defenders who understand and communicate with each other very well than a backline consisted of Alves, Terry, Cannavaro and Lahm who just don’t click as a unit.
So now that we have agreed on Garay as the man to replace Pepe, don’t we need another one to replace him, just in case and God forbids, he gets injured or Albiol and Metzelder get sidelined as well?
Yes, but don’t look elsewhere and here is why.
There is always a lot of pressure on Real Madrid. Perez’ next move at the moment should logically be splashing £20m or something on a center-back but this is what I don’t want him to do. Instead, I want him to look inside — and for once and all, ignore AS and Marca.
Have some faith in your people.
The Castilla is full of players who are hungry to have a shot at playing for the first team. They have the talent, yet they lack the experience.
This is probably the only difference between Barcelona and Real Madrid when it comes to youth players. Barcelona have more faith in their youngsters than Real Madrid do and it has worked very well for them so far.
Promoting a Castilla defender to the first team is not a horrible idea. If you buy a replacement, he will go through the same experience a Castilla player would go through — and I actually think a Castilla defender would gel and adapt faster.
The bottom line is, Real need to show some faith in their players whether first team or Castilla players. Splashing money for another defender is not always the right thing to do, and you never know — there might be a hidden talent in your youth ranks that is ready to shine.