Real Madrid CF held the official presentation of David Alaba on Wednesday, and the entire football world drew in a sharp breath as he was handed a shirt with the number 4 at the end of the ceremony. The Austrian posed for photos with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, and the number 4 jersey weighed heavily in his hands.
The number is so significant because it had just been vacated by former skipper Sergio Ramos, who had just left the club earlier this summer. It was initially believed that no one would dare wear the iconic defender's jersey number, but the Austrian shocked Madrid fans by taking on the number and let's face it, the massive responsibility that comes with it.
The presentation ceremony started out as expected, with a lengthy video montage featuring Alaba's best moments with former club Bayern Munich. Then, Perez took the stage to officially welcome the player, speaking fondly of him in direct contrast to his demeanour towards past players in recently leaked secret audio recordings.
Perez was visibly more affectionate in his words and actions, hugging Alabas as he stepped off the stage. The central defender is being seen as somewhat of a summer hero, owing to the fact that the morale at the club is low after a dry season and the departure of Ramos.
The arrival of Kylian Mbappe is much-awaited, but it is starting to become less plausible as the weeks pass. As such. Alaba may very well be the club's biggest signing of the summer. He now holds the burden of giving the club something new to be excited about next season. and the monumental task of wearing a number that Ramos has worn for over a decade and a half.
"I spoke to the club about it. They offered me that number. I don't think there was any other," said Alaba, as he spoke to the press after his presentation.
"I know what the number means for the club and that motivates me. It represents strength and leadership. I want to give my all for that number," he added, before insisting that he is not there to "replace" the charismatic Spaniard. Instead, he only wants to prove his own worth and create his own legacy.