France may have suffered huge disappointment with defeat in the Euro 2016 final to Portugal, but that doesn’t appear to have stopped some of their leading players from being in high demand. Indeed, Champions League winner Real Madrid is thought to be pursuing both Paul Pogba and Dimitri Payet.
In the case of Pogba, he has long been on the radar of Europe’s very biggest clubs, including Madrid. Since leaving Manchester United in 2012, the midfielder has won four Serie A titles and showcased a unique range of skills that have seen him regularly linked with big money transfers.
Real Madrid looked to have moved to the front of the queue for his signature this summer, but that was until Manchester United upped the ante, suggesting it was willing to pay a world record fee of 100 million pounds ($132 million) to bring the 23-year-old back to Old Trafford. Real Madrid is understood to have balked at that price, however the player’s agent Mino Raiola has now suggested that all possibilities, including remaining at Juventus, remain open.
“Juve don't want to get rid of Pogba – they want him to stay for a long time and they want to renew his contract,” Raiola told Sky Italy. “Only if he wants to leave will we sit down and talk about it. I can't exclude anything, though, not even that he will be sold to another club.
"The transfer market is open for a long time – it closes in September. Between Raiola and all the clubs in the world there is a line open, not only with Manchester United.”
Given Manchester United will not even be in the Champions League next season, it would be easy to conclude that Real Madrid would be a more attractive proposition for Pogba. Madrid is also far from adverse to breaking the transfer record, having been the team responsible for doing so on the last five occasions.
While still unlikely, certainly there is more chance of Real Madrid paying a fee of that size for Pogba than there is for Payet. The playmaker’s stock has risen hugely since joining West Ham from Marseille for 15 million euros ($16.7 million) last summer. After a starring first season in the Premier League, Payet garnered yet more attention for his performances in the group stage of Euro 2016, when he scored two outstanding goals and dragged France through the opening round.
Those displays are said to have caught the eye of Real Madrid. However West Ham insists it has no intention of letting its star attraction depart, unless a truly ridiculous offer arrives.
“We’re not selling him unless someone wants to break the world transfer record and then we might consider it,” West Ham co-chairman David Sullivan told The Sun. “Even at his age he must be worth £100m.”
With the possible exception of those in the Chinese Super League, there is no chance of any club paying anything close to that fee for a 29-year-old.
With no headway being made on moves for Payet and Pogba, Real Madrid is thought to be exploring other options. The names currently in the club’s thoughts, according to Madrid-based sports daily AS, are Eden Hazard, Julian Draxler and André Gomes.
It is far from the first time that Hazard has been linked with a transfer to the Bernabeu, but the suggestion if that his value may now have dropped to a point that a deal may be viable. The outstanding player in the Premier League two seasons ago, Hazard endured a dreadful campaign last term, failing to score his first league goal until April.
With hard taskmaster Antonio Conte arriving this summer to take charge of Chelsea, there has been suggestions that the Belgian attacking midfielder could be on the move. Yet that looks unlikely, with Hazard set to be given an opportunity to show that his poor form last season was more a result of the management of previous coach Jose Mourinho than his own frailties.
An interest in Draxler, meanwhile, is understandable given the Germany international’s impressive performance for Wolfsburg against Real Madrid in the first-leg of the sides’ Champions League quarterfinal last season. He may be difficult to prize away, though, given it is only a year since Wolfsburg paid 36 million euros ($40 million) to sign him from Schalke.
As for Gomes, plenty of speculation in the Spanish press has been directed toward Real Madrid’s interest in the Portugal midfielder. But given that he had a mixed campaign last season and didn’t get off the bench during the Euro 2016 final, 65 million euros ($72.2 million), which has been the fee mentioned by Marca, appears excessive in the extreme.