Kepa Arrizabalaga and Álvaro Odriozola are the two chief targets identified by Real Madrid to strengthen their first-team squad, in the process continuing the LaLiga club's policy of snapping up Spain's top young talent.
The plan at the Bernabéu is to sign goalkeeper Kepa from Athletic Bilbao in January, with the Real Sociedad right-back following in the summer, ahead of a World Cup that both are in contention to be involved in.
Crunch week ahead in Real Madrid's Kepa chase
With Real first focusing on securing Kepa, whose Athletic contract runs out at the end of the season, this week is set to prove key in their bid to sign him. Los Blancos did not want to step up talks over the custodian before their weekend visit to San Mamés, to avoid a situation of acute tension between player and home fans. Now that fixture has been played, however, Real will intensify their efforts to sign him.
The initial plan was to take Kepa on a free in the summer, but both the keeper and Real want to resolve his future earlier, for fear that Athletic could leave him out until June if he refuses to renew - a situation which would, in all likelihood, cost him his place at Russia 2018. He has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for 20 million euros in January, and Real are prepared to pay it.
Athletic Bilbao aren't throwing in the towel and will make a final attempt to tie Kepa down to fresh terms; nevertheless, Real are confident that the 23-year-old will opt to move to the Bernabéu.
Odriozola move to Real Madrid slated for summer
Meanwhile, Real Madrid are to wait until the campaign is over for Odriozola. They know that the defender is keen to join, and that Real Sociedad have no intention of letting him leave for less than his 40-million-euro buy-out figure. Even if they fail to lower La Real's asking price, Madrid will seek to agree his transfer with the Basques, rather than the more expensive option of unilaterally activating his release clause (which entails significantly higher tax costs for the buying club).
As Odriozola is in the frame to go to the World Cup, Real are keen to complete a deal for the 21-year-old before the tournament begins, to avoid the player travelling to Russia amid uncertainty over his future.