Zinedine Zidane has conceded that his Real Madrid squad is lightweight up front following Alvaro Morata’s departure and regrets the striker’s decision to leave.
The Spaniard pushed for a transfer over the summer, joining Chelsea in an effort to get more first-team football, but since then Real have been hit by an injury to Karim Benzema.
With Mariano Diaz also swapping Real for Lyon, it has left the Champions League holders very short up front as they begin the defence of their Champions League crown.
Morata has three goals for Chelsea already, no Real player has more than two.
‘Looking at our squad, we may be missing a number nine,’ Zidane told reporters on Tuesday ahead of the clash with APOEL.
‘I would have liked Morata to stay but he wanted to play more first-team football elsewhere, which was his decision.
‘We tried to get in another player, last year we had Morata and Mariano and now only [Borja] Mayoral is in the squad.
‘Mayoral was not in the squad against Levante but that was my decision and he will be a part of our group on Wednesday – he is hungry.
‘We’re happy to have Ronaldo back – physically he is very fit and mentally with all that has happened, with all the talk, he is in a good place.’
Morata has scored three league goals already for Chelsea and laid on two assists, while Mariano has netted four times in Ligue 1.
With only Mayoral, recalled from his loan at Wolfsburg, as backup, Real have struggled in front of goal, winning just one of their first three Liga fixtures and failing to score more than once against Levante at the weekend.