Real Madrid have identified Luiz Gustavo as the man to replace Sami Khedira if he leaves the Bernabeu this summer and have already made a tentative early enquiry to Wolfsburg about the possibility of making the Brazilian international their latest signing.
That is according to a report in Spanish publication El Confidencial, who report that Madrid now believe Khedira's exit is now inevitable amid interest from Arsenal & Chelsea in a £25m deal and have now begun planning for life without the German midfielder as a result.
Rumour mill has one month to run
Khedira has been the most talked about player in just about transfer gossip column over the last month, after flatly refusing to extend a contract with Madrid that runs out next summer.
Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has not given up hope of persuading the World Cup winner to stay but is well aware that the 27-year-old could move on at any point during the next month, but Los Blancos chiefs are concerned that Khedira might wait until next summer and leave for free.
Madrid are already putting a contingency together and view Gustavo as a man capable of providing the defensive platform for the likes of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in central midfield, but he won't come cheap.
Wolves want to keep star man
Gustavo has been courted by Man United this summer, but a hefty release clause of €33m has so far been enough to put the Red Devils off the former Bayern Munich enforcer.
Wolfsburg only signed the anchor last summer on a five-year deal, which puts the big-spending Bundesliga side in a strong negotiating position if Madrid turn early interest into a formal offer.
Madrid want to make a profit on Khedira if he leaves and are conscious that they face a race against time to find suitable cover if he does move on, which is why talks are already underway to see if Gustavo is available despite the sizeable asking price.