Real Madrid have identified Valencia centre-back Shkodran Mustafi as a potential replacement for the wantaway Sergio Ramos, who is reportedly keen to join Manchester United this summer.
This is according to Spanish newspaper AS, who quote Mustafi’s father as telling Sport1 on Sunday that Real Madrid have been in contact via a series of telephone calls.
“It’s true; there has been contact via telephone regarding this matter,” Kujtim Mustafi confirmed. “Some of these calls took place last season. Madrid is a great club and I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be proud of my son signing for this club.”
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However, it will not be straight-forward for Real Madrid to sign Mustafi this summer. The Germany international, 23, is contracted to the Mestalla until 2019 and has a €50 million release clause.
AS claim that, as things stand, Mustafi is not Real Madrid’s first-choice replacement for Ramos.
Real Madrid's other defensive targets
Mustafi’s Valencia teammate Nicolas Otamendi is currently top of Los Blancos’ most-wanted list, while Leonardo Bonucci of Juventus, Athletic Bilbao’s Aymeric Laporte and Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny are also on the radar of the Spanish giants.
Mustafi, who has been capped eight times by his country, played 36 times for Los Che last season, scoring four goals in the process. He began his career with Everton, although few at Goodison Park will remember the German, who made just one first-team appearance for the Toffees before joining Sampdoria in 2012.
Following two-and-a-half-years in Serie A, the central defender sealed an €8 million move to Valencia, where he has continued to flourish.
While it would be an exaggeration to suggest Mustafi is in the same class as Ramos, the German is certainly a promising talent who could develop into a first-class centre-back within a few years.
Laporte would be an even better signing
But a better option for Real Madrid, if Ramos does leave the Bernabeu, might be the excellent Laporte.
Having already proven himself in La Liga with Athletic Bilbao over the past three years, the France Under-21 international would be a magnificent signing for the ten-time European champions.
That the 21-year-old is the same nationality as Raphael Varane also means there’s the potential for Rafael Benitez to assemble a hugely effective all-French central defensive partnership at the Bernabeu.
However, Athletic Bilbao never let their star players leave without a fight; their ‘Basque-only’ policy making it difficult for the club to replace big names with players of similar quality.
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