Real Madrid hit man Ruud van Nistelrooy will miss the rest of the Primera season after undergoing knee surgery in the US yesterday.
The Dutchman had injured an exterior meniscus in Champions League match against Juventus last month but had seemingly recovered and was playing again until last week. As luck would have it, it was in another Champions League match when he could play nine minutes after the pulsating pain returned to his knee.
Like just about every top athlete facing an injury requiring surgery, he was sent to Colorado to see Dr. Richard Steadman, who had operated on Van Nistelroy before in 2000 during his PSV Eindhoven days. This time around, while performing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, Steadman found a partial break of Van Nistelrooy's kneecap plus further damage to his ACL and cartilage. Instead of a quick 'scope and recovery, the Real Madrid ace is looking at a six to nine month recovery time - missing the rest of the season.
This news comes at a critical time for the defending Spanish champions, who are currently fourth in the league and just crashed out of the Copa Del Rey on Tuesday, losing to lowly Real Union on away goals. They are already missing winger Arjen Robben, out for six weeks with with a torn muscle, as well as holding midfielder Mahamadou Diarra - out for the next two weeks. Coach Bernd Schuster, already under pressure for the team not meeting the board's high expectations, will be under even greater pressure in the coming weeks.
Reserve team forward Alberto Bueno looks likely to step up to the first team until the end of December but Real will likely look for a striker in the January transfer window. They seem to have their eyes on Manchester United's Carlos Tevez, which may prove to be a bridge too far since the Reds are in their own Premiership dogfight and can't spare the talent.
At the same time, this news comes hot on the heels of Jose Mourinho's house cleaning announcement at Inter so either Hernan Crespo or Adriano could find themselves with a chance at the Bernabeau.