Real Madrid have reportedly begun negotiations with AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, as they plot to beat Barcelona to his signing in the summer.

According to a report from El Nacional, Real Madrid have sent emissaries to Italy to start negotiations with AC Milan superstar Franck Kessie over a transfer in the summer. The Ivory Coast international is also a transfer target for Los Blancos’ arch-rivals, Barcelona.

Kessie is widely regarded as one of the finest midfielders on show in Serie A. The 25-year-old has grown leaps and bounds since joining the Rossoneri from Atalanta in 2017. Having initially arrived on a two-year loan deal, the midfielder’s move was made permanent in 2019. He has been an integral figure in Milan’s revival in Italian football under Stefano Pioli.

A powerful box-to-box midfielder with goalscoring acumen that came to the fore last season, Kessie is in the final six months of his contract with the Serie A giants. Talks over an extension have not yielded the desired results as the club, and the player are well apart in the wages being offered and demanded.

The contract standoff has sparked interest from elite clubs across Europe, with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Tottenham keen on snapping him up on a free transfer. Real Madrid and Barcelona are also very much in the picture to secure the signing of the Ivory Coast international, with the former seemingly taking the first steps to beat their rivals in the race.

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Real Madrid are looking at a major overhaul in midfield in the near future as Luka Modric is in the final phase of his glittering career while Toni Kroos is well into his thirties and will slowly need to be phased out as well. With Dani Ceballos and Isco also expected to depart from the Santiago Bernabeu, there will likely be some vacancies in the midfield department which the Merengues will need to fill.

Kessie, to that end, has seemingly emerged as a key target for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, who intend to partner him up with the next generation of midfield talents at the club in Eduardo Camavinga and Federico Valverde. However, Real Madrid will have to contend with competition from bitter rivals Barcelona, who are also keen on moving for the AC Milan star.

The Catalans have a well-rounded midfield unit with Frenkie de Jong, Sergio Busquets, Pedri, Nico Gonzalez and Gavi. However, Busquets is not getting any younger, and there have been speculations surrounding the future of de Jong, who has not adjusted well enough to the tactics of Xavi Hernandez. Kessie could thus be a viable option to bolster their midfield unit, with his potential free agency in the summer making him an attractive target for the Blaugrana.

While Barcelona’s financial difficulties might put them at a disadvantage, Real Madrid do not wish to risk missing out on the signing of the midfielder and have sent a team to Italy to begin discussions with Kessie and his camp over a summer move. It remains to be seen if they are successful in their efforts or get beaten to the punch by the Catalans or a different team altogether.

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