David de Gea
David de Gea put in another impressive performance for Manchester United on Sunday, but continues to be linked with Real Madrid. Reuters

Real Madrid have started the Zinedine Zidane era in sparkling fashion, adding a 5-1 win over Sporting Gijon on Sunday to a 5-0 victory over Deportivo La Coruna in the new coach’s first match in charge. Yet the big story surrounding the club remains transfer ban handed down to them by FIFA last week.

Found guilty of breaching regulations regarding the signing of minors, Real Madrid, along with neighbors Atlético Madrid, have been banned from registering new players for two transfer windows, beginning this summer. The news has led to a flurry of speculation that the Spanish giants could embark on a frenzied spending spree in the final two weeks of the January transfer window, before the sanctions come in to effect.

Indeed a report from Spanish daily Marca has suggested that Schalke starlet Leroy Sané and Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea are two players that Real Madrid would be keen to sign this month. De Gea was on the verge of completing a move to the Bernabeu last summer, before a late registration glitch saw the deal fall apart. Sané , meanwhile, has risen swiftly to prominence since scoring a memorable goal against Real Madrid in last season’s Champions League Round of 16 tie. However, Real Madrid director general José Ángel Sánchez has insisted that the club are not making any contingency plans, so confident are they that their appeal will be successful.

“At this moment we are only thinking about the appeal process,” he said. “We are not even considering the other possibilities. The club has professionals to take care of the planning and they will do what they have to do. From our point of view there will be no other outcome if justice is served in the appeal process and common sense will see that there will be no consequences for the club.”

Even if Real Madrid do fail to get the ban overturned, there is a way that they could be free to sign players this summer. When Barcelona appealed a similar sanction in 2014, the ban was suspended until a decision was made. Barcelona went onto sign several players in that summer’s transfer window.

And, according to The Independent, Real Madrid are still very much planning on signing De Gea this summer. It was widely known that the Spain international was keen on a move back to Madrid, where he started his career with Atlético , although he later signed a new contract after the move collapsed. In the meantime, Keylor Navas has been in outstanding form in goal for Real Madrid this season. Still, Real Madrid have previous with exiling previously impressive performing players in preference for signing a bigger name.

De Gea is unlikely to be the only player targeted if Real Madrid are free to register players this summer. Indeed, British tabloid The Sun has claimed that the 10-time European champions will embark on a massive spending splurge on some of the world’s biggest stars. Among those players it is said Madrid are chasing are Paul Pogba and Eden Hazard.

Pogba has been linked with all of Europe’s major clubs in the past year, having emerged as one of the world’s finest midfielders at Juventus. His recent place in the FIFA FIFPro World XI for 2015 has only further enhanced his reputation. Yet reports in Italy in recent days have added further weight to the long-held theory that the France international will choose Barcelona for his next destination.

Hazard has also been regularly mentioned in connection with a move to Real Madrid. Any deal for the Chelsea attacking midfielder would likely be contingent on the departure of either Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale. Both have been linked with transfers away from the Bernabeu in the summer, although they would likely stay put if Real Madrid were unable to sign a replacement.

Perhaps unsurprisingly two strikers are also said to be on Real Madrid’s agenda. Karim Benzema is currently Madrid’s only established out-and-out striker, and his future remains in some doubt having been charged with conspiracy to blackmail his France teammate Mathieu Valbuena. Yet Madrid will find it difficult to lure either of the two targets named by The Sun, Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski and Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero .