Marca’s front page on Friday pictured the moment Real Madrid equalised in injury time against Atletico Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final dropping a massive hint that Sergio Ramos may join city rivals Atletico Madrid.
All that was missing was Sergio Ramos deleted from the image with the headline: ‘The hole that he leaves‘.
Never mind the question: who will score the last minute equalisers now? What happens next season? Who will play in the centre of Madrid’s defence in 2021-22?
Sportsmail looks at the options – how will they replace Ramos?
The 28-year-old France international could be the new leader of the defence without Ramos but Varane is set to leave this summer and Ramos’ departure is unlikely to change that but the problem at hand is that there are a host of clubs including Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain interested in signing him
With only one year left on his contract Madrid are happy for him to go if the price is right. It all goes in the pot marked ‘sign Mbappe’.
The Austrian replaces Ramos in as much as he signs just days before Ramos leaves but can he replace him on the pitch?
The former Bayern left-back/left centre-back needs license to attack wherever he plays. Playing on the left of a three would give him that but Ancelotti is likely to play four at the back.
Even in a pair he could fill Ramos’ boots as a centre-back who carries an attacking threat. He will need pace and reliability alongside him.
If Varane goes Nacho or Militao will have to offer that.
Nacho replaced Ramos last season and if he plays more it will please supporters who fill the team is losing its Spanish heart.
Nacho is a downgrade but he does have some of Ramos’ spirit, he can get forward and he’s reliable.
The 23-year-old shone alongside Nacho during the run-in last season in Ramos’ absence.
If Varane goes Militao could pair with Alaba in Madrid’s new look defence with Nacho in reserve but they would still need a fourth centre-back.
The 21-year-old centre-back impressed in one start and one appearance as a substitute last season.
The captain of the B-team led the side to the UEFA Youth League the season before last and has a U-19 Euros medal too.
He’s aggressive and physically imposing he also brings the ball out from the back well with his right foot much as a young Ramos once did.
And if they sign someone…
The 22-year-old French centre-back was outstanding again last season but Sevilla have him on a contract until 2024 with an 80m euros (£68.5m) release clause.
Last season Manchester City were willing to pay around 55m euros (£47m) and they turned it down.
They would want the same again this year and Madrid don’t have the finances to meet that demand.
Spain’s promising young centre-back is in the same bracket as Kounde but after Villarreal made it into the Champions League by beating Manchester United in the Europa League it seems less likely he will leave.
He grew up in the town and what’s to play for them next season in Europe’s top club competition.
The 24-year-old is happy to stay and Villarreal, like Sevilla, are in a position to hold out for a huge fee that Madrid will not be able to pay.
Looking for a exchange deal
With 33 players on the books Madrid do have players they could use as bargaining chips.
According to AS, Roma have proposed Leonardo Spinazzola for Borja Mayoral who has been at the Italian club on loan.
Spinazzola’s quality is not in doubt but he’s a left back and with Ferland Mendy, Marcelo and Miguel Gutierrez in that position it would solve any problems. If a similar deal is cooked up with a centre back they will take it.