Second place is never good enough for Real Madrid. Such is the standard for the one of the most successful clubs in the history of world football. Failing to defend their UEFA Champions League crown, bowing out to Manchester City in the semi-final is painful enough as it is. But to come second to sworn rival FC Barcelona in the La Liga table? Now that should give the Madrid brass some sense of urgency to reinforce the squad.

Of course, as presently constructed, Madrid remains one of the most stacked teams in world football. They still have a stout midfield comprising of Federico Valverde, Toni Kroos, and Luka Modric, while Eder Militao, David Alaba, and Antonio Rudiger are still quality options at the back. In attack, Vinicius Jr. remains one of the most lethal threats on the wing, capable of skinning defenders one-on-one, while his finishing has improved considerably.

But one position sticks out as a sore thumb for the Los Blancos; following the departure of longtime striker Karim Benzema, the club's second-best goal scorer in its illustrious history (trailing only Cristiano Ronaldo), Real Madrid may have to splash the cash once more to remind the world of their financial might that was especially so apparent during the peak of their Galacticos era.

It will be difficult for Madrid to rekindle the magic of their transformative 2009 summer transfer window; as one would recall, that was when they signed Ronaldo, Benzema, and Kaka, setting themselves up for success for the years to come.

But their down 2022-23 season must behoove them to try and swing for the fences, as Real Madrid never settles for being second-best.

With that in mind, these are the two players Madrid must sign during the 2023 summer transfer window.

Kylian Mbappe

Ah yes, the yearly Kylian Mbappe transfer rumors. Ever since breaking out as one of, if not the best young player in world football, it seemed like moving to a more illustrious club, such as Real Madrid, was only a matter of time for the nascent Frenchman. These talks have only become louder as PSG continue to fall short in their bid to win the UEFA Champions League.

However, just last year, Mbappe signed a three-year extension with Paris Saint-Germain amid transfer interest from the Los Blancos.

But perhaps with Karim Benzema off to Saudi Arabia, Madrid may very well decide to revisit transfer talks for the 24-year old megastar.

Kylian Mbappe, as one would recall, was weighing his options last season. Real Madrid hasn't made their transfer interest in the 2018 FIFA World Cup winner a secret. And such a move makes sense for Mbappe as well, as the French international adored the club in his formative years.

With Lionel Messi's exit from PSG a mere inevitability, and Neymar involved in yet another transfer saga of his own, major changes could be afoot for the reigning Ligue 1 champion. Losing Mbappe during such a time may not be ideal, but perhaps the 24-year old attacker could force a move, especially if he sees the departure of his co-stars as indicative of a potential downturn for the club.

Since Mbappe's contract runs until 2025, PSG can and will demand a lump sum from Real Madrid should they truly pursue a transfer in this window for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Golden Boot winner. PSG bought Mbappe from AS Monaco in 2018 (after a loan spell) for €180 million ($192 million in today's economy), so, given Mbappe's ascent, the Parisians could conceivably demand a transfer fee of around $300 million — which would shatter the previous record.

Still, if there's any player who could step in and fill Karim Benzema's shoes from day one, it's Kylian Mbappe. Just the thought of him running wild alongside Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo should give opposing defenders cold sweats.

Alphonso Davies

Real Madrid already has a dynamic presence at left back in Ferland Mendy; Mendy possesses blistering recovery pace, and he's a tireless worker down the flank on both ends of the pitch. Alas, Mendy has fallen victim to the injury bug for a good chunk of the 2022-23 season, and now, it seems like manager Carlo Ancelotti has deemed him surplus to requirements for next season.

In fact, in place of Mendy, the Los Blancos have relied upon Eduardo Camavinga — a midfielder by trade — to fill in at left back (which he has done so at an admirable enough level, but still, he's at his best at midfield).

Thus, it's no surprise that Madrid has shown interest in Bayern Munich left back Alphonso Davies. Davies, beyond his otherworldly pace, offers such a potent threat in attack. In fact, he could perhaps do a job at left wing if need be. Still, Davies is as resolute defensively at the position as they come, as his pace only serves to accentuate his natural defensive instincts.

Of course, Davies remains the reigning Bundesliga champion's first-choice left back, so prying him away won't be easy for Madrid. But it never hurts to try, as the allure of playing for one of the most successful clubs in world football may be too hard to resist.