Five Players Real Madrid Should Buy With €500 Million Transfer War-Chest
By Katlego Mereko
In recent reports, former Real Madrid coach Fabio Capello claims to have been reliably informed of an eye-watering transfer budget for Los Blancos following a below-par season that saw them crash out at quarter-final stage of the UEFA Champions League to a high-flying Ajax side.
The 13-time UEFA Champions League winners have endured a season to forget after Cristiano Ronaldo’s sensational transfer to Juventus and Zinedine Zidane’s shocking resignation after another successful campaign last year. The latter has since returned to the club to steer the ship through a turbulent season after managers Julen Lopetegui and later Santiago Solari were sacked, and has been promised a handsome transfer kitty, to the tune of “€500 Million” according to Capello, as part of his return deal.
While Zinedine Zidane has been hugely successful at Spanish giants’, winning three Champions League trophies on the trot and one La Liga, he cannot be said to have had a Pep Guardiola-esq influence over the development the squad.
An aging side and Real’s typically flexible resources have given the France legend a rare opportunity to revolutionise the team and cement the cult status he already enjoys at the club with some shrewd signings in the next transfer window.
Here are five players they should buy:
Probably the most mooted transfer rumour, Hazard’s move to Los Merengues looks imminent, with both the player and Madrid manager Zidane airing their admiration of each other out in public. The Chelsea forward has been in scintillating form this season, already matching his best goal output at the London cub with 16 - and with three matches still to play. He has, however failed to arrest the decline of Maurizio Sarri’s struggling side as they battle for a top-four spot. Hazard is probably the only big-name wing-forward Madrid should invest in, as reports suggest that Zidane is keen on developing Brazilian teenage sensation, Vinicius Jr, into a superstar. This means one wing-forward position will likely be used to develop the 18-year old, while Hazard stars on the opposite side. Not to forget another exciting Brazilian prospect in the shape of Rodrygo, for whom Madrid shelved out around €50 Million last season before loaning him out back to Brazilian club Santos. The nimble-footed forward will be joining Zidane’s team in pre-season.
Although the rumours have since quieted down, the Chelsea midfielder was once linked with a move to Real Madrid. The World Cup winner has endured a frustrating season after being shifted to a number 8 position, rather than his preferred number 6 role, to accommodate Sarri’s football philosophy which requires a technical player for the pivot role in his 4-3-3 system, opting for Jorginho for this position instead. Los Blancos have long been in the search for a defensive midfielder in the mould of the legendary Claude Makélélé, with whom Zidane played during a successful spell as Madrid player and talisman. He, of all people, will know the importance of an industrious defensive midfielder in his double-pivot system after Casemiro failed to deliver on a consistent basis. While prizing fan-favourite Kante away will prove difficult, any figure in the upwards of 100 Million should be enough to tempt Chelsea to sell. The move is also heavily dependent on Sarri’s future at the club, who has stated with no uncertain terms that the diminutive midfielder is not the right player for his system.
An alternative player rumoured to already be in contact with Madrid officials is West Ham youngster Declan Rice.
The Real Madrid engine room may need a complete overhaul with the current crop consisting of Toni Kroos and Luca Modric seemingly unmotivated after a hugely successful spell at the club. Zinedine Zidane is a long-time admirer of the Danish midfield ace, who can operate across the front three in the 4-3-3 system and behind the striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation. He can also operate in the number 8 role occupied by Toni Kroos in Zidane’s team. Eriksen has been influential once again for Tottenham Hotspur this season as they look to secure a top-four spot in the league after earning a historic semi-final berth in the UEFA Champions League. After six years of sparkling service in north London, Eriksen might feel that it is time take his game to the next level though, and a mooted €100 million move looks to be on the cards for the 27-year old.
Perhaps an unnecessary target considering Madrid’s wealth of talent in his position, such as Isco, Marco Asensio and Brahim Diaz, Pogba has been linked with a move to the club following flattering public exchanges between himself and Zidane. While Madrid is well-stocked in Pogba’s favourite number 10 role, the club does have a penchant for multiple blockbuster moves in one transfer window, and Pogba would not be an all too surprising face to see turnout at Santiago Bernabeu next season. The World Cup Winner has been in fine form for Manchester United this season, especially after Jose Mourinho’s departure, recording 16 goals and 11 assists overall, but a good offer from Madrid could prove too sweet to turn down at the end of the season. It has been rumoured that €150 million will be enough to seal the Frenchman’s move.
The Argentine forward has been at the centre of an internal war at Inter Milan after being stripped off the captain’s armband by manager, Luciano Spalletti, earlier this year. After a period of isolation from the squad, Mauro is being drafted back into the team, however his relations at the club may be damaged beyond repair following public dispute that involves his agent and wife Wanda Nara and the club. The inter number 9 is a proven goal-scorer having bagged 110 goals in 180 appearances for Inter since 2013. While Karim Benzema has been in encouraging form this season in Ronaldo’s absence, the French forward is now 33 and is unlikely to keep up with 50 games a season for much longer. Icardi is the most proven option Madrid can, with relative ease, acquire for a player in this position, although Luka Jovic has been rumoured to be monitored by the club after an impressive season at Eintracht Frankfurt in the German Bundesliga.
Zidane will look to offload players who have proven surplus to requirements such as Gareth Bale. Also looking for new challenges are Toni Kroos and Luca Modric, all of whom could raise enough funds and save them to help fund a certain 20-year old who is running rampant in the French league this year, possibly for the 2020-21 season, who knows?