There is rarely ever a dull moment at Real Madrid, but that is particularly true following a season in which the club failed to add to its haul of silverware. Already the fallout from the club’s disappointment in the Champions League and La Liga has seen the coach who led them to "la decima" just 12 months ago, Carlo Ancelotti, dismissed and Rafa Benitez lined up as his replacement. But there is little prospect of the activity at the Bernabeu this summer ending there.
As much as trophies, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez craves marketable stars. And the fact that his galáctico strategy hasn’t exactly proven an overwhelming success in building balanced, winning teams, looks unlikely to prompt a change in approach. After the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo and David Beckham arrived in Perez’s first spell in charge, Gareth Bale and James Rodríguez joined in the past two summers as the club went in relentless pursuit of the latest in-vogue name.
Speculation over who will fill that role for Real Madrid this summer is already in full swing. Juventus’ Paul Pogba has already been one name strongly linked, but Madrid-based publication AS is now reporting that Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero is the galáctico that Perez wants. The Argentina international finished as top scorer in the Premier League this season with 26 goals.
And it is far from the first time he has been linked with a transfer to the Bernabeu. Ahead of his move to Manchester City from Atlético Madrid in 2011, Real Madrid were widely believed to be interested, only to see their rivalry with their neighbors end any hopes of a deal. Agüero said as much when he visited the Bernabeu with Manchester City in 2012, suggesting he had been denied the chance to join Real Madrid. The striker, who turned 27 on Tuesday, has given no indication that he wants to leave City, despite their failure to break into the latter stages of the Champions League. And The Guardian has reported that City are confident of holding onto a player who has four years remaining on his contract.
Despite not yet being at the galáctico level, Raheem Sterling is another player who continues to be linked with a big-money transfer to Real Madrid. The 20-year-old, who was given the Golden Boy award as the best young player in Europe last year, has made it clear that he has no intention of extending his contract at Liverpool and that he wants to leave the club. According to British tabloid The Sun, talks will begin on a possible £45 million move to Real Madrid when a team of Liverpool legends visits the Bernabeu to face its Madrid counterparts on June 14. Yet given that Sterling is at this stage still more potential than realized talent, it is difficult to envisage Real Madrid paying a sum that would convince Liverpool to sell.
Real Madrid’s primary target is thought to have long been Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea. The Spain international has been sought after the struggles of captain Iker Casillas dating back more than two years. Casillas’ future remains in doubt, with Marca reporting that he will seek a conversation with Benitez in the days following his expected unveiling as the team’s new manager on Wednesday. Clubs from across Europe are already said to have expressed an interest in the 34-year-old.
Casillas is not the only big-name player linked with a departure. Barcelona-based outlet Mundo Deportivo is reporting that Manchester City are planning to try and lure Isco away from the Bernabeu. City were beaten to the attacking midfielder’s signature by Madrid two summers ago, but may now be encouraged by his failure to earn a regular starting berth. Isco performed superbly for large stretches of the season and became a big fan favorite, but then found himself on the sidelines when other players returned from injury. Still, the story states that it would take an offer of at least €45 million for Madrid to consider selling the immensely talented 23-year-old.