Real Madrid already made their two splash moves of the summer by acquiring attacking midfielders James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos. Now the squad appears intent on selling off enough players to afford enough pitch time to the new stars.
Midfielders Angel di Maria and Isco have been tied to most of the recent speculation, and for good reason. Di Maria played an integral role in Argentina’s second place finish in the World Cup earlier this month, specifically netting the winning goal in the Round of 16 victory over Switzerland.
Isco, 22, has years of stellar play ahead of him, and was an immediate contributor in his first year at the Bernabeu. In 32 appearances last season the former Malaga and Valencia star scored eight goals, and he earned two caps for Spain in the process.
According to Caught Offside, Di Maria’s two most likely destinations are Manchester United or Paris Saint-Germain. The report explicitly mentions how playing time will be scarce for di Maria due to the Rodriguez and Kroos’s signings, and also puts United as the favorites to land him since PSG faces controversy over the UEFA Financial Fair Play sanctions imposed on them earlier this year.
PSG is evidently proposing Di Maria make the switch on-loan and eventually making it permanent, but United have the funds and the willingness to spend under new manager Louis van Gaal. Following the World Cup, Di Maria’s value rose to £44 million and PSG have already shelled out £40 million to secure David Luiz from Chelsea.
Meanwhile Manchester City has emerged as Isco’s most likely destination. The Independent reports that Isco’s time under current City manager Manuel Pellegrini at Malaga, his desire for regular playing time and Alvaro Negredo expected to miss three months due to a foot injury all point to a transfer to the defending Premier League champions. However, like PSG, City must also find a way around UEFA’s transfer rules to land the player valued at roughly £31 million.
In other news, Madrid defender Raphael Varane is apparently unhappy with his low wages. The 21-year-old Frenchman is currently in discussions with Madrid, but Chelsea are also monitoring the situation, according to The Independent. As the youngest defender on Madrid’s present roster, it’s unlikely they would let him slip away for anything less than his current market value of £22 million.
And Varane might be open to a stay at Stamford Bridge since manager Jose Mourinho was the one who moved him up to Madrid’s first team in the first place.
Another Los Blancos star angling for a higher wage is goalkeeper Iker Casillas. As reported by Express, Spain’s captain was pushing Madrid for a free transfer to Arsenal, but the Gunners backed away since Casillas is asking for a £135,000-per week wage.
At this point the decorated Casillas has very little leverage to negotiate or make demands. He already lost his regular starting spot to Diego Lopez, and the arrival of Keylor Navas from Levante will likely mean even less playing time. Also the five goals he surrendered to the Netherlands in Spain’s opening World Cup match could also be a signal Casillas’s best years are behind him.