Watching their great rivals Barcelona lift the Champions League title on Saturday in Berlin will have only fueled Real Madrid’s burning desire to return to the winner’s circle next season. After winning their 10th European Cup in 2014, Real Madrid finished this season empty handed, a failure that cost manager Carlo Ancelotti his job. Rafa Benitez is now getting to grips with the challenges at the Bernabeu, and, according to new speculation, is keen to aid his challenge next season with the man who threatened to deny Barcelona on Saturday.
Álvaro Morata briefly brought Juventus level in the German capital, continuing what has been an encouraging first season in Turin. Another of his high points was scoring in both legs of Juventus’ Champions League final against Real Madrid, the club where he came up through the youth ranks before being allowed to leave for a transfer fee of €22 million in search of regular first-team action last summer. But Madrid shrewdly inserted a buy-back clause in the deal, allowing them to sign Morata for €30 million this summer and €35 million in a year’s time.
Spanish sports daily AS reports that Benitez is keen for Madrid to activate that clause right away, seeing him as the man to occupy the central striker role for the team. With Manchester City striker Sergio Agüero also having been linked with a transfer to the Bernabeu in recent weeks, there is further doubt cast upon the future of Real Madrid’s current first-choice No. 9, Karim Benzema.
Reports in Britain over the weekend claimed that the France international’s agent had met with Manchester United officials about a potential transfer to the Premier League giants. Benzema has long struggled for support from the Bernabeu crowd, yet has become a key performer in the past two seasons and his agent insists there are no plans for him to move.
“Karim wants to see out his contract,” Karim Djaziri told Marca. “He wants to retire at Real Madrid. I haven't met with any club in London. Not with United and not with anyone else. We haven't held talks with anyone other than Real Madrid What is Karim going to do in Manchester? He's happy in Madrid. He doesn't want to leave. Benzema would only leave if Real Madrid told him he was surplus to requirements, because he isn't going to leave of his own accord.”
There have been rumors, too, over the future of another Real Madrid forward. Having made his feelings known that he wanted Ancelotti to stay, the Italian’s dismissal is thought to have led Cristiano Ronaldo to seek talks about the club’s direction. At the same time came reports that long-time suitors Paris Saint-Germain were willing to put down a record €125 million to bring the current Ballon d’Or winner to the French capital. Now, a survey in France Football has shown that Ronaldo is the player PSG fans most want to sign. Still, they appear unlikely to get their wish, with Ronaldo’s contract still having three years to run and there being no serious suggestion yet that either he or the club are keen to part ways.
It has long been clear that Real Madrid’s first order of business in the transfer market this summer would be to try and secure the signing of Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea. The 24-year-old has for some time been expected to take over the No. 1 role from Iker Casillas, whose position has been under threat for more than two years. United have understandably been reluctant to lose the Spain international, but, with just a year remaining on De Gea’s contract, they may well be compelled to do a deal. And his exit may now have take a step nearer, with Goal.com reporting that De Gea has informed Manchester United that he wants to be allowed to join Real Madrid and go back to a city where he played previously with Atlético and where his family and girlfriend are based.