Real Madrid’s inconsistent preseason continued on Sunday when for the second game in a row and fourth time in seven friendly outings Rafa Benitez’s new side failed to hit the back of the net. Despite their failings in front of goal being mitigated by the absence of the injured Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, Real Madrid’s lack of activity in the transfer market since Benitez took charge continues to be somewhat curious for a club used to making headline signings each summer.
The new La Liga season is now less than two weeks away, although speaking after a scoreless result with Valerenga, Benitez did not rule out Madrid doing business before the end of the transfer window.
“For a club like Real Madrid, the window is open until 31st August,” he said, reports Marca.
There remains one clear transfer target for Real Madrid in the form of Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea. With just a year remaining on his contract and apparent desire to move back to the Spanish capital, where he came up through the ranks at Atlético Madrid, a transfer has long appeared simply a matter of time. However, United have dug their heels in, requesting Sergio Ramos in return or a massive fee of €45 million.
But the situation took a further twist over the weekend when De Gea was omitted from the United squad for the opening match of the Premier League season. Manager Louis van Gaal revealed it was because he considered De Gea to not be in the right frame of mind to play as speculation over a move to the Bernabeu goes on. After the match Van Gaal suggested the situation could rumble on, although with United unwilling to relax their demands.
“Of course [De Gea could stay],” he said in a press conference, reports Sky Sports “We have to pay a lot of money for the players we want so we want to sell at the same level when we have to sell. We want to keep him, of course. He has been voted the best player here for the last two years.
“We have observed in preparation and that was not the same David de Gea as last year. Of course when the situation has been cleared after September 1 we will look again.”
Despite their scoring troubles, the other big transfer story surrounding Real Madrid concerns a striker potentially on the way out. Benzema’s place at the Bernabeu has been rumored to be under threat with Benitez reportedly keen to link up Ronaldo and Gareth Bale through the middle this season. And Premier League challengers Arsenal have been repeatedly linked. Still, Benitez has claimed that he wants the France international to stay, while Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has repeatedly stated that there is no great need to strengthen his striking department.
Yet Spanish sports daily AS is among the sources now reporting that Arsenal are poised to offer a club-record bid for the 27-year-old. Arsenal’s previous record was the 42.5 million pounds (€60 million) paid to Real Madrid for Mesut Özil two years ago. Such an offer may give Real Madrid a tougher decision to make, yet, unless they secure a replacement of at least equal quality to Benzema, there would appear little prospect of allowing him to depart. Sergio Agüero would appear to be the man Real Madrid want and their interest in the Manchester City striker has continued to be reported by AS and the Daily Mail in recent days. However, Manchester City have no need or desire to sell and there has been no indication that the Argentina international would attempt to force through a move.
Indeed, any prospect of Agüero moving to the Bernabeu this summer became slimmer still over the weekend when he was handed the No. 10 shirt at Manchester City. Afterward, he promptly offered to autograph fans’ shirts with his old No. 16 or have them swapped for the new version -- not exactly the gesture of a player interested in leaving his club.