As Sergio Ramos moves increasingly close to the exit door, Real Madrid are reportedly already lining up replacements for the World Cup winning defender. Ramos is said to have informed the club of his desire to leave this summer during a meeting on Wednesday, with Madrid responding that they would listen to offers. There is still a long way to go before his 10-year stay at the Bernabeu comes to an end, but events are certainly moving in that direction.
Ramos has fallen out with the club’s hierarchy over negotiations to extend his current contract, which has just two years left to run. While Real Madrid may be unwilling to offer Ramos the salary he believes his status at the club warrants, Manchester United seem eager to do just that in order to lure him to Old Trafford. According to Madrid-based sports daily AS, United are prepared to pay the 29-year-old €55 million over five years. That news comes on the heels of Marca’s claim that United have already had a transfer offer of €45 million rejected.
Madrid could yet make it extremely difficult for Manchester United to get their man and the deal could yet be complexly intertwined with the Los Blancos’ interest in goalkeeper David de Gea. But there is speculation that Madrid are already making contingency plans in the event of Ramos’ departure.
Those plans include, reports Britain’s Daily Mirror, a possible move for Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny. The tabloid claims that Real Madrid are planning a £21 million (€29.5 million) bid for the France international. After arriving at the Emirates stadium from in 2010, Koscielny has developed into one of the Premier League’s best center-backs, meaning Arsenal will be hugely reluctant to allow him to leave. And Madrid will surely be hesitant to pay a huge fee for a player who will turn 30 in September.
Perhaps more likely is a transfer, as suggested by Marca, for a 27-year-old defender already in La Liga -- Valencia’s Nicolas Otamendi. The Argentina international, currently in action at the Copa America, was instrumental in his club qualifying for the Champions League last season, but has made it known that he wants a move to a bigger club this summer. While Manchester United were thought to be his likely destination, the Premier League club’s interest in Ramos may leave the door ajar for Real Madrid. Still, the task of meeting his €50 million buyout clause or convincing Valencia to lower their thus far resolute demands mean a deal will be far from straightforward should Madrid make their move if and when Ramos departs.
Following a trophy-less season and the arrival of Rafa Benitez as manager, it is not just the future of Ramos that is in doubt. Indeed, Spanish outlet El Economista has reported the eye-catching story that Isco is a target for Barcelona. The Spain international attacking midfielder is said to have been lined up by Josep Maria Bartomeu as part of his re-election campaign for Barcelona president. While Isco will surely have been frustrated at failing to hold down a place in the first team despite impressive performances, a transfer from Madrid to fierce rivals Barcelona is difficult to envisage.