Los Blancos are seeking their first Champions League title in more than a decade, but if recent speculation is correct, the Spanish giants are looking to form a new dynasty of a roster for a litany of titles in the future.
Following their incredible 9-2 aggregate victory over Schalke 04 in the Round of 16, Real Madrid must be viewed as one of the heavy favorites as the global and prestigious tournament nears its final stages.
Per usual, Madrid have set their transfer aspirations high, and it appears a possible replacement for the injured Jese may come in the form of Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic. While Jese often resembles more of an attacking midfielder than a striker, Mandzukic plays like a pure striker.
Equally as impressive not only in Champions League play this season, but in the last two years with Munich, the 27-year-old Mandzukic has become quite the hot commodity for the likes of Italian clubs like Juventus and Arsenal, according to a report from Tuttosport.
Mandzukic has scored 32 goals in 47 appearances for Munich since 2012, and he could certainly fill any void left by Jese’s unfortunate, season-ending injury suffered during Tuesday’s trouncing of Schalke. Mandzukic may also be amenable to the switch, considering the looming arrival of Robert Lewandowski at Allianz.
Juventus is reportedly considering matching the Croat's £25 million buyout clause, but that’s a relatively cheap amount for Madrid considering the expected sales of strikers Alvaro Morata and Karim Benzema.
Madrid also reportedly planned to chase Mandzukic back in January, believing he’d be a better fit next to Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale than Benzema.
Morata’s future remains somewhat in doubt, but it appears he’ll reside in either Italy or England. Manchester United and Arsenal will reportedly battle to bring the promising 21-year-old to the English Premier League, while Serie A’s Inter Milan are also interested, according reports out of Spain and from Tuttosport.
In other news, Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic recently turned back any rumors of a switch to Madrid or United, as reported by Express. Many clubs are intrigued by 26-year-old Bosnian with seven clean sheets in 25 appearances this season, but Begovic did hint at a desire to play for a contender.
"There is no truth as far as I'm aware. I've not had contact with either club,” Begovic said, according to Express. "From my point of view it's flattering to hear those words - two of the biggest clubs in the world - but I'm just enjoying playing my football here.
"I focus on my job each and every day and make sure I perform every weekend for Stoke City. I've enjoyed my time here and don't want that to change but everyone has ambitions to go as far in the game as possible but there's been no contact.
"I want to test myself against the best players in the world and to qualify for the World Cup this year with Bosnia is a huge achievement.”
Madrid’s two top keepers Diego Lopez and Iker Casillas, both of whom have played exceptionally this season, are under contract until 2017, but are also 32. Purchasing Begovic is a play for the future, but he might become frustrated sitting behind such accomplished, every-match keepers.