Real Madrid have touched down in Australia to begin their pre-season, but their plans for the new campaign remain in a state of flux. Following the completion of Iker Casillas’ transfer to Porto, much of the uncertainty surrounds the goalkeeping position.
It has long been thought assumed that David de Gea would be Casillas’ replacement at the Bernabeu, yet his prospective arrival from Manchester United continues to looks no closer to completion. Indeed, on Monday, De Gea was part of the United squad that headed off on their pre-season tour of the United States.
Despite De Gea having just a year remaining on his contract, United are still hugely reluctant to sell, and, according to Madrid-based sports daily Marca, they won’t do so unless Sergio Ramos and Keylor Navas move in the other direction. Navas’ own future has been called into question after spending much of his first season at Real Madrid on the bench. And, despite still pursuing De Gea, Madrid have also made an approach for another goalkeeper.
Kiko Casilla has impressed since leaving Real Madrid in 2007, with his performances for Espanyol last season earning him a first cap for Spain. While the 28-year-old would be an unlikely choice to fill the No. 1 role at the Bernabeu, Los Merengues have already made an offer in an attempt to bring him back to the club where he came up through the youth ranks. However, the two parties would appear to still be some way apart in negotiations.
“We are at €4 million” Espanyol president Joan Collet said, reports Spanish publication AS. “For what he represents and for what the value of the player is we have not asked for anything because we do not have to sell. The communication we sent to Real Madrid was that Kiko is valued at more than €4 million. I don’t know if they have other proposals, but we have not talked for a few days. We are currently at €4 million and we cannot accept that.”
There has also yet to be any movement in Ramos’ transfer saga. Although the 28-year-old has yet to sign a new contract and has made it clear to the club that he wants to leave for Manchester United, he has now been granted the position of Real Madrid captain following Casillas’ departure. Madrid are widely believed to have rejected one bid from United and continue to set a prohibitive asking price for the World Cup winner. And Marca has reported that a “ceasefire” between Ramos and president Florentino Perez could be on the cards.
Still, that hasn’t stopped Real Madrid being linked to potential replacements for Ramos. Argentinian duo Ezequiel Garay and Nicolas Otamendi are thought to be on the club’s thoughts, as is Germany international Shkodran Mustafi. The 23-year-old has played at right-back for his country, but impressed in the center for Valencia last season. Yet, while flattered to be linked to Madrid, Mustafi has suggested that, as yet, there is nothing to the speculation.
“If there has been interest from Madrid, it is something I feel honored by, of course,” he said, according to AS. “It would be a recognition of my personal performances because I enjoyed a good season. But for the moment I feel really good at Valencia.”
Real Madrid’s extensive links to Manchester United this summer could yet extend to Gareth Bale. The Welsh winger, who became the world’s most expensive player when joining from Tottenham two years ago, endured a difficult past season at the Bernabeu, during which he was regularly mentioned in connection with a move to Old Trafford. Those rumors had dissipated with neither Bale nor Real Madrid appearing key to part ways. And, while Spanish radio station Cadena COPE has reported that United have made a bid of €140 million, Madrid are said to have promptly rejected it.
Real Madrid have been linked with paying a similarly outlandish figure for Juventus star Paul Pogba, although another all-action midfielder has emerged as a possible target in recent days. William Carvalho was one of the stars of the recent UEFA Under-21 Championship, and Portuguese publication Record reports that Real Madrid will now go head-to-head for the Sporting Lisbon starlet’s signature with city rivals Atlético Madrid. Carvalho has also been linked with Arsenal and Manchester United in the past, although Sporting’s valuation is always thought to have been prohibitive.