Real Madrid announced that new signing Mariano will inherit the iconic number 7 shirt at the club, which was left vacant after Cristiano Ronaldo's departure to Juventus. Mariano returns back to the Santiago Bernebau after a successful spell with Lyon in Ligue 1.
The striker's release clause was activated by Los Blancos and was reportedly signed for a fee believed to be worth 30 million euros. After taking over the number seven shirt, Mariano has to fill in the sizeable boots of the Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese superstar spent nine successful years at the Spanish club, leading them to unprecedented heights and becoming club's all-time top scorer. But prior to the start of 2018/19 season, he decided to end his association with the Blancos, signing with Italian giants Juventus.
Ever since his departure, Real have been in dilemma regarding his replacement. The names of Kylian Mbappe, Eden Hazard and others had popped, with a signing looking imminent. Though, only Vinicius Junior and Mariano arrived! New head coach Julen Lopetegui faced a barrage of criticism for not bringing in any player to replace the Portuguese star. Though, it seems, with the transfer window all but over, the former Spain head coach has decided against bringing anyone, and will rely on the set of players he has for the near future.
However, Mariano has enjoyed a splendid start to his career, scoring 21 goals in 48 games during his time at Lyon. Before leaving for France, he was also part of the Real Madrid squad that won La Liga and the Champions League in 2016-17, under Zinedine Zidane. The Spanish born Dominican Republic striker's decision to take up the shirt conveys a bold move, because the jersey was previously graced by likes of like Raúl González, Butragueño, Juanito, and Amancio. Now only time will tell if he will be able to live up the expectations of the iconic shirt.
Earlier, the 13-time European champions, Real Madrid swept the all the individual prizes at the star-studded event held by UEFA in Monaco. Keylor Navas picked up the goalkeeper of the year, while captain Sergio Ramos was named defender of the year. Former Galactico, Cristiano Ronaldo was awarded forward of the year for his record-breaking campaign in the Champions League. But the man of the night was, Luka Modric. The Croatian playmaker was not only named midfielder of the year but was also awarded with the UEFA Men's Player Of The Year, for a stellar season with both club and country.