Real Madrid thought they needed to bring striker Mariano Diaz back to the club after a breakout season with Olympique Lyonnais just over a year ago.  Now, after making just 18 appearances in the last 16 months (Transfermarkt), could Mariano play a critical role in helping Los Blancos find the back of the net?

There is one fit player registered on the first team at Real Madrid that has not been used yet as we relax during the La Liga holiday break. Other than Marco Asensio who is sidelined with a knee injury, Mariano is the only player not to feature in a single match and funny enough, there seems to be nothing holding him out.

After winning the first two matches of December by two goals as per Whoscored, Madrid limped into the Christmas break with three consecutive draws against quality opposition and manager Zinedine Zidane did not seem too keen to use the 26-year-old striker to help shake things up in front of goal.

This brings up a couple of questions for fans to consider. Why does Zidane not at least put Mariano on the bench for a match or two? Why doesn’t he bring him on late as a substitute to see if he can make an impact?

Recent matches have highlighted the fact that Benzema alone is not enough to shoulder the goal responsibilities and some sort of backup is surely needed.

Yes, it is hard to argue that Mariano Diaz should feature more frequently than Karim Benzema or Luka Jovic, but it is simply wrong to make the player train week after week without including him in a matchday squad.

In fact, Mariano has been included in just one matchday squad all season and that came against RCD Mallorca way back in October as an emergency when Eden Hazard was missing due to the birth of his son. Quite harsh, right?

There have been rumours swirling about that suggest Mariano is frustrated and ready to help a club where he can actually play, which makes plenty of sense. AS Roma have been named as one potential suitor, while a couple of Saudi Arabian club names have appeared as well.

Or, could a return to Lyon be in the cards for a forward who has plenty to offer a team needing help up front?

Whatever president Florentino Perez and Zidane decide to do with Mariano, they need to go about it carefully and professionally. As it stands today, Real Madrid has derailed Mariano’s career and relegated him from a regular starter and goalscorer to nothing more than a glorified training dummy.

Facing Getafe on January 4 in the first game back from the holiday break, it would be wise for Zidane to look at rotating his squad a bit before his side takes part in the newly restructured Supercopa in Saudi Arabia and give Mariano a chance to at least come off the bench.

Mariano does not deserve the treatment he has received and at least deserves the chance to prove his worth before being sold or loaned out. Maybe a move away from the Spanish capital is on the cards before the end of the winter window, but at least give the striker a chance to go out in style.

If Real Madrid struggle to score against Getafe, it’s high time Mariano Diaz gets a chance to see if a change of personnel helps end the drought.