FootballLa Liga

Europe’s elite ready and waiting for the great firesale to blaze through the Bernabeu

June 11, 2019

REAL MADRID have lost no time in getting their much-needed squad shake-up going this summer, with the Bernabeu outfit on course to spend around €400 million on new players.

Such an outlay means Madrid will have to recoup somewhere around €300 million to balance the books and meet UEFA and La Liga financial fair play rules, especially with an expensive rebuild of the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu having just commenced.

A scattergun approach to signings through recent years means that there are perhaps 18 [eighteen] different players they would, in theory, be open to moving on, but at what price and to where?

GK Keylor Navas – €25 million

After five very rollercoaster seasons at Madrid, Navas will finally be on the move this summer, having been told by Madrid’s hierarchy that Thibaut Courtois will be number 1 next season.

Despite winning 12 trophies with Los Blancos, including three Champions Leagues, some sceptics have never quite seen the Costa Rica international as top class. Now 32, he has been linked with Paris Saint Germain and Porto, while there would be a certain symmetry if he were to join Manchester United should David De Gea leave Old Trafford this summer.

DF Nacho Fernandez – €25 million

Previously a super reliable squad player at the Bernabeu, homegrown utility defender Nacho Fernandez could now be surplus to requirements, with his stock having fallen as his form suffered along with many teammates through 2018/19.

Inter Milan have been mentioned as a possible destination for the 29-year-old, who has 22 caps for Spain and can play anywhere across the back four.

DF Marcelo – €40 million

Madrid vice-captain Marcelo was among the senior players to lose his place when Santi Solari was trying to shake up the squad last season, although he returned to the XI when Zidane came back in March.

With France international, Ferland Mendy presumably signed to be the first choice from now on,

Marca have claimed that Madrid are inviting the 31-year-old to now move on, and a reunion with Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus continues to be talked about. However the player himself continues to maintain he plans to remain and battle for his place.

DF Sergio Reguilon – €15 million

One of the few successes of Madrid’s 2019/20 was homegrown left-back Sergio Reguilon, who in six months went from obscurity in the third tier with Castilla to being the only Madrid player to stand up to Lionel Messi in February’s Clasicos at the Bernabeu.

But Zidane is unconvinced by the 22-year-old, and a loan or sale with buy-back option now looks likely. Borussia Dortmund are apparently keen, while his former Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui could take him to Sevilla.

DF Theo Hernandez – €25 million

The fourth left-back on Madrid’s books is the least likely to play under Zidane next season, with Theo’s €24 million move from neighbours Atletico Madrid two years ago just not having worked out.

Last season’s loan at Real Sociedad did not go great either, but Theo definitely has the talent and athleticism and is still just 21. Napoli are said to be keen, while the Bundesliga and Premier League are also options.

MF Marcos Llorente – €20 million

Homegrown holding midfielder Llorente is another who Zidane just does not seem to rate, despite promising showings under Lopetegui and Solari, including an excellent goal in December’s Club World Cup victory.

The scion of Bernabeu royalty, 24 now, appears to have accepted that he will have to succeed elsewhere. Atletico are reportedly trying to persuade him to cross the city, while Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea have all been mentioned as other possible suitors.

 

MF Dani Ceballos – €35 million

Madrid’s hierarchy were very happy when they beat Barcelona to the signing of former Real Betis starlet Ceballos in summer 2017 for what looked a bargain €16.5 million. But again breaking into the first XI has proven too difficult as he has impressed in snatches but never really looked at home.

Tottenham, Lazio and West Ham all reportedly like the playmaker, who will be with Spain at this summer’s under-21 Euros. The player himself appeared to suggest recently his preferred option would be a year back at Betis, before another go at being a success at the Bernabeu.

MF Mateo Kovacic – €50 million

Kovacic’s 2018/19 on loan at Chelsea was a qualified success, with 51 appearances in all competitions, and a Europa League trophy at the end.

Chelsea’s looming FIFA transfer ban, and uncertainty over who will be the manager next season, now complicates the 25-year old’s situation. A return to former club Inter Milan, under ex-Blues manager Antonio Conte, could end up being best for all involved.

MF James Rodriguez – €60 million

Having been parked for two years at Bayern Munich, James is now returning to Madrid having asked the Bundesliga giants not to take up their option to sign him permanently.

The 27-year old seems to want another chance at the Bernabeu, but Zidane probably has other ideas, and Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal all reportedly fancy the challenge of getting him to fit into their systems. A reunion with Carlo Ancelotti at Napoli could be most likely if the finances can be made to work.

MF Isco – €70 million

Solari was perhaps acting on instructions from above in freezing out the super talented but frustratingly inconsistent Isco last season, while Zidane has been lukewarm in his public comments, with the Andalusian seen as maybe Madrid’s most saleable asset.

Barcelona were tempted before he signed his most recent contract two years ago, while Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has more than once denied any interest. Paris Saint Germain or Juventus could now try and find a way to get the best out of the 27-year-old.

FW Gareth Bale – €100 million

Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett continues to insist that his client is going nowhere, despite Zidane having made it very clear that the Welshman does not figure in his plans.

One side is going to have to budge at some point, as a Winston Bogarde style three seasons in lucrative limbo is inconceivable for a player who decided a Champions League final just 12 months ago. The solution may be a long-term loan deal, with Madrid subsidising his wages. Manchester United and former club Tottenham are always mentioned, but replacing James at Bayern should not be ruled out.

Subs:

Andriy Lunin, Achraf Hakimi, Martin Odegaard, Brahim Diaz, Mariano Diaz, Borja Mayoral, Raul de Tomas