After a quiet summer, it will be interesting to see if Real Madrid enter the transfer market this winter. We take a look at the players they might chase in January.
It is rare to see Real Madrid go into a summer with a squad and come out of it without having made any additions to it. Even rarer are instances when the Merengues bolster their resources in January transfer windows, having enjoyed very little success with their winter acquisitions.
However, Real Madrid did choose to not make any signings in the summer transfer window, with the only significant addition to their squad coming in the form of Martin Odegaard, back from a loan spell at Real Sociedad. That was thanks in large part due to the financial constraints that have come about with the Santiago Bernabeu renovation coinciding with the advent of COVID-19.
The situation is still prevalent, with the redevelopment of the Bernabeu still ongoing. However, the squad does appear to be in need of some reinforcements, as the average of the first-team continues to increase. With Real Madrid also unable to perform consistently, it looks like some additions are imperative.
Even so, it is expected that Real Madrid not bolster their squad this winter, with the reliable Jose Felix Diaz claiming that a budget has not been drawn up for the January window. Nevertheless, if Los Blancos do continue to blow hot and cold, they might just be forced into the transfer market. With that in mind, we take a look at five players Madrid Madrid could sign in January.
The most obvious pick. David Alaba has been a stalwart for Bayern Munich since joined them over a decade ago. The Austrian international has won it all with the German heavyweights all while being a pivotal figure in defence for Die Roten.
Whether it is as a left-back or a centre-back, Alaba has shown the prowess to be a reliable figure in the defensive line. In his latest iteration, the 28-year-old has reinvented himself at the heart of the defence, which, in particular, should pique the interest of Real Madrid.
As things stand, Zinedine Zidane has three centre-backs at his disposal in captain Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Eder Militao, with Nacho usually being an emergency option for positions across the backline. Eder Militao, though, continues to show teething problems over a year after his arrival in the Spanish capital, with the Real Madrid boss rarely using him.
Meanwhile, Ramos is on the wrong side of 30 and his Real Madrid future has recently been called into question, with links with Juventus emerging. Therefore, it looks like the Merengues could do with a solution at the heart of the defence, something Alaba could be.
At the same time, his arrival could also help Zidane ease Marcelo out of the first-team setup, with the Brazilian seemingly regressing considerably at the onset of this season. Alaba’s potential presence in the squad could also mean Real Madrid have a backup for Casemiro, if needed, with Alaba playing as a holding midfielder for the Austrian national side.
That he is in the final year of his contract with Bayern Munich and no nearer to agreeing a new deal makes things a bit straightforward for Real Madrid, if they choose to make a move for him this January. A cut-price deal might well be in the offing then, unless Los Blancos decide to wait till the summer and sign him for free.
As iterated already, Real Madrid do appear to be in need of signing a centre-back who could be a long-term solution for them. While Alaba’s versatility does potentially make him an asset, his talents could be better served on the left, where he could vie with Ferland Mendy week in week out.
This is where Skriniar comes in. The Slovak, like Alaba, is no stranger to courting interest from Real Madrid, who have been keen admirers of his talent for a long time. Much like Alaba, Skriniar is in unknown territory at his current club, albeit in a different sense.
A mainstay in different for a couple of years following his move to Inter Milan in 2017, 2019/20 was a leveller for Skriniar, who was not quite a seamless fit in Antonio Conte’s system. Over the past year or so, the 25-year-old has gone in and out of the starting lineup at San Siro, with his qualities making him a better fit in a four-man defensive setup.
So while things might not really be hunky dory, a move to Real Madrid could be just what he needs to resurrect his stuttering career. His price tag, though, might be a stumbling block. Skriniar, who is also a target for Liverpool, was reportedly valued at €60 million in the summer, although his price could drop if his predicament continues and he forces a move this winter.
Midfield is an area that Real Madrid do need to bolster, sooner or later. Make no mistake about it; Luka Modric, despite having a spring in his step in the post-lockdown period, is in the twilight of his career. On top of that, Isco is at a crossroads in his Real Madrid career, with an exit looming for him.
With Modric likely to be phased out within the coming season or two and Isco set to be moved on, it is clear that Real Madrid have to lay down a smooth succession plan. Here is where French prodigy Eduardo Camavinga comes in.
Aged just 17, Camavinga has set the stage alight since breaking into the Rennes first-team setup last season; so much so, that he is already a mainstay in midfield for the Ligue 1 outfit while also having made grade in the French national side. His progress has already alerted a number of top European clubs, none more so than Real Madrid.
Rennes somehow withstood the pressure from the bigwigs of the continent, but it seems to be a given that Camavinga will no longer be at the club next year, especially with his contract only running till the summer of 2022. With competition for the prodigious midfielder being quite stiff, it might serve Real Madrid well to jump the gun and make a move for him this winter.
To sweeten the pot, they could loan Camavinga back to Rennes for the remainder of the season, a la William Saliba. With Modric showing little signs of slowing down as far as 2020/21 is concerned, Real Madrid seem to be in good stead with their current midfield unit. So the aforementioned deal could work well in the long run for the Spanish giants.
If Modric is phased out and Isco does indeed leave, Real Madrid can not just be content with the arrival of one midfielder. Therefore, they need to keep their options open, which is where Houssem Aouar comes into the picture.
Zidane has already been quizzed about a potential Real Madrid switch for Aouar, with the French manager claiming that his compatriot could well play for the club one day. In fact, Aouar is the kind of player who could be more of a like-for-like replacement for Modric than Camavinga, whose qualities could be better served in a role similar to Federico Valverde’s.
A terrific ball carrier, the Lyon superstar can add to Real Madrid’s creative numbers from midfield, thereby making him the ideal foil for both Valverde and Toni Kroos. Much like Camavinga, Aouar is a player who is quite a hot property as far as the transfer market is concerned.
Arsenal are reportedly still interested in the 22-year-old, which means engineering a deal similar to the one proposed for Camavinga could be the best way forward, especially with Aouar claiming that he stayed put at Lyon to play week in week out and strengthen his chances to be picked for France duty at next year’s European Championships.
Now this one is the most bizarre of the transfers that are being proposed. Erling Haaland has only been at Borussia Dortmund for less than a year and seems to be quite settled at the Signal Iduna Park at the moment.
Dortmund, though, continue to be a side that are struggling to take the next step and win the big honours. The 3-2 defeat to Bayern Munich this weekend was another such result that pointed towards crumbling when it matters, which is why Haaland could perhaps, be lured for a move to Real Madrid.
There have been suggestions that a €75 million release clause comes into effect in 2021, although Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has claimed that there is no such agreement with Haaland over an exit clause. If that indeed is the case Real Madrid could be in a spot of bother.
The alternative could be to chase some other striker. However, after failing to get the best out of Luka Jovic, Zidane might just be a bit hesitant in signing a striker who is not in the top echelons as far as attacking players are concerned. The Real Madrid gaffer will also be aware that despite going top guns for a long time, Benzema is approaching the last of his peak years.
Haaland is, therefore, just the kind of player Real Madrid need to swoop as soon as possible, considering his exploits make him a target for most big clubs across Europe. Reports suggest that a move for 2022 is being planned, but if goals continue to come at a premium, it might not be a surprise to see them take a plunge in January. The next couple of months will be key.