Real Madrid’s unconvincing preseason came to an end on Tuesday, just as the club made their first big signing of the Rafa Benitez era. It was not a move that many saw coming, with the Spanish giants agreeing to pay an undisclosed fee, reported to be around €30 million, for Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic from Inter Milan.
With Real Madrid having an abundance of ball-playing midfielders -- Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Asier Illarramendi, Isco, Lucas Silva -- it is difficult to see how the 21-year-old, while hugely talented, satisfies an immediate need for the club at such a lofty price. It could well mean, though, that at least one of those names mentioned is on the way out of the Bernabeu.
Considering Kovacic has taken Lucas Silva’s No. 16 shirt upon arrival, the Brazilian would seem an obvious candidate to leave, at least on loan. The 22-year-old only joined Real Madrid from Cruzeiro in January but could struggle to make an impact this season, given that competition for a place has increased, not just with Kovacic’s arrival but also the return from loan of Casemiro. Also linked with a transfer away is Illarramendi. The former Real Sociedad man cost €30 million when he arrived two years ago but has failed to establish himself in the Real Madrid first team. According to Barcelona-based daily Mundo Deportivo, Real Sociedad and Liverpool are competing for his signature.
But Real Madrid will not be giving up hope of further strengthening their squad before the close of the transfer window. Indeed, while he won’t be in place for the club’s opening match of the Primera Division season at Sporting Gijon on Sunday, Marca reports that they are still very much intent on signing David de Gea this summer.
So far Madrid have failed to grant Manchester United’s request for either Sergio Ramos or a world-record fee for a goalkeeper in return for their player of the year for the past two seasons. And, according to Marca, they still have no intention of matching United’s asking price, yet are confident of getting a deal done. De Gea has not featured in any of United’s opening three matches of the season, with manager Louis van Gaal saying he will not do so until the matter is resolved. Van Gaal even suggested that the Spain goalkeeper had stated that he didn’t want to play.
De Gea may not be the only remaining target, however. Benitez is thought to want an extra striking option, although it is a defender that Real Madrid have now been linked to. Spanish sports daily AS reports that Real Madrid’s scouts were taking a close look at Galatasaray left-back Alex Telles during the Turkish side’s visit to the Bernabeu on Tuesday. The Brazilian is thought to be one of the players Madrid are considering should Fabio Coentrao depart the club. Coentrao was a lucrative signing from Benfica four years ago but has failed to shake off competition from Marcelo for the left-back berth.
Telles, 22, joined Galatasaray from Gremio 18 months ago and has also been linked with a transfer to Chelsea in recent days. Indeed, the manager of the Turkish champions, Hamza Hamzaoglu, has said that they have already rejected a €7 million bid, but didn’t rule out doing a deal at a higher price.