There’s a strong possibility that Real Madrid, reigning Champions League winners, will be beaten in their pursuit of Paul Pogba by Manchester United, who aren’t even in next season’s edition of the European tournament.
According to Tuesday’s El Confidencial, Zinedine Zidane has failed to convince Florentino Perez that Pogba is worth the £100 million fee it will take to sign him from Juventus.
Though The Sun claim Madrid remain remain interested in signing the French midfielder, the door appears open for Jose Mourinho to seal his fourth signing of the transfer window.
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It’s not all bad news for Los Blancos, though. By not spending a nine-figure fee on Pogba, the club aren’t taking the risk of making a 23-year-old - who many are convinced doesn’t have what it takes to become elite - the world’s most expensive player in history.
It seems very un-Madrid like. Perez was happy to spend more than £80m to sign Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, yet is reluctant to make Pogba the latest Galactico.
According to AS, Madrid have drawn up a list of alternatives in the event that Pogba signs for United. And they have reason to believe that all would join.
Hazard & Draxler
The first name gathering momentum inside the Bernabeu is Eden Hazard, whom Madrid are long-term admirers of.
The Chelsea winger didn’t have the best of seasons in 2015-16, which has knocked his price tag. If new manager Antonio Conte doesn’t consider the 25-year-old a part of his plans going forward, Hazard could end up in the Spanish capital.
Julian Draxler is another name on Madrid’s list and Zidane and co. will have been impressed with what they saw from the young German at Euro 2016.
Having completed a surprise move from Schalke to Wolfsburg in 2015, it was feared that the 22-year-old was on a path to an unfulfilled career.
But his performances in France - especially in the 3-0 win over Slovakia, in which Draxler scored and recorded an assist - has alerted the big boys once again.
The third player is Valencia’s Andre Gomes, who shined even amid the turmoil that plagued Los Che’s season.
If Pogba joins United, or stays at Juventus, it’s easy to see Madrid turning their attentions to the Portuguese centre midfielder.
Zidane reportedly considers adding defensive midfield reinforcement a priority so it’s quite surprising that AS haven’t included N’Golo Kante’s name on their list of alternative signings.
There seems little point in signing Hazard when Cristiano Ronaldo is still thriving. Considering Casemiro is the team’s only recognised defensive midfielder, Zidane should be on the phone to Kante, who has a release clause of just £20m, the moment he knows for certain that Pogba isn’t available.