The clock is ticking for Zinedine Zidane as he looks to cut his squad down drastically, a move that will include the sale of several big names.
capped a week to remember in the transfer market on Wednesday as Ferland
Mendy was officially presented as their latest new signing.
In the space of seven days Luka Jovic, Rodrygo and Eden Hazard had
previously enjoyed their own lavish introductions at Santiago Bernabeu,
with Eder Militao the next man to walk out on the famous pitch and meet
That spate of activity, however, has its downsides. Madrid’s squad
is now dangerously unwieldy, and “Operation Exit” will now swing into
place – with up to 13 players set for the chop over the summer as
Zinedine Zidane looks to streamline his team.
“We are extremely confident,” Goal heard from a source inside the
club. The efficiency of Madrid’s transfer movements and the quality of
names achieved have certainly raised expectations after a 2018-19 season
With one more midfield signing (Christian Eriksen and Paul Pogba
are the prime targets) and a final effort to land Neymar, an extremely
difficult prospect, Madrid’s recruitment for the coming campaign will be
complete. But with 36 players currently in the senior squad that number
will have to be trimmed down and fast before pre-season starts on July
9, the deadline the club has set itself to remove those deemed surplus
The exodus has in fact already started. Marcos Llorente has moved
across the Spanish capital to Atletico, who will pay out an initial €30
million (£26.7m/$33.9m) for the midfielder. Raul de Tomas, who is in the
gaze of Benfica, and James Rodriguez, likely to choose Napoli once he
returns from the Copa America, will be next, their sales promising to
inject fresh funds in Madrid coffers left almost empty by their heavy
Those three may be the first to leave, but they are unlikely to be
the last. In goal both Keylor Navas and Luca Zidane are close to the
exit, the former angling for a move to PSG while the coach’s son also
sees his future in France.
Sergio Reguilon and Jesus Vallejo have been similarly deemed
expendable in defence, while Theo Hernandez is back from a loan spell at
Real Sociedad but will not be in Zidane’s plans for 2019-20 either.
It is in midfield, though, that “Operation Exit” will be most
keenly felt. With Llorente on his way to the Wanda Metropolitana, the
next men out should be Dani Ceballos, Mateo Kovacic – who is waiting on
FIFA’s transfer sanction on Chelsea to find out whether he can complete
his move to Stamford Bridge, while Inter watch with interest – Martin
Odegaard, a candidate for a loan move, and Isco.
The ex-Malaga man’s situation is complex, but he is close to the
exit nonetheless. In attack, aside from De Tomas, Borja Mayoral is close
to Real Sociedad and doubts remain over Brahim Diaz, due to his tender
age and Madrid’s wish not to stifle his development.
Gareth Bale is one of Madrid’s prime dilemmas this summer. Zidane
does not want the Wales winger in his squad, but Bale will do everything
he can to remain – or at the very least, make his departure as
difficult as possible.
If all of those players are let go the coach will have reduced his
senior set-up to a lean 23 players, with the promise of one more should
Pogba or Eriksen sign. But Madrid will not be holding a fire-sale for
any of their players. Only bids that match the club’s own valuation will
be considered, as the Merengue continue to mould a squad of young,
talented footballers that are the envy of almost any team in the world.
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