The prospect of a Real Madrid future without Cristiano Ronaldo has again reared its head, with the Portuguese apparently disenchanted with life at the Bernabéu after a promised improvement to his current contract failed to materialise. Despite his decisive intervention in last season’s Champions League and his fifth Ballon d’Or win, Ronaldo only occupies the position of the world’s fifth highest-paid footballer.
According to a report in Portuguese daily Record on Tuesday, Real president Florentino Pérez is willing to listen to offers for Ronaldo. Were the Portugal captain to seek his fortune elsewhere, his departure would leave a not-inconsiderable one in the club’s coffers for a superstar replacement in the summer, but who would be available?
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
The Premier League’s star player, who outscored both Leo Messi and Ronaldo in 2017, something that no player had achieved in the seven calendar years before that. The main obstacles facing Madrid are Kane’s loyalty to Spurs and his desire to play in the new White Hart Lane that will be unveiled next season, and the prospect of playing hardball with Daniel Levy, who will attempt to extract a fee in the region of what PSG paid for Neymar to even countenance losing the England striker.
Transfermarkt value: €120m | CIES value: €194.7m
Another move for the Brazilian a year after joining PSG for a world record fee would be an incredible event and the chances of him joining Madrid after his time at Barcelona probably remote. But the Brazilian has not found Paris entirely to his liking and has been the subject of plenty of headlines for reasons other than football during his half season at the Parc des Princes. Nevertheless, Florentino Pérez has openly courted Neymar, as have some Madrid players, to the evident distaste of Ronaldo. Seen as the natural successor to Messi and Ronaldo as the next Ballon d’Or holder, Neymar certainly fits the bill but it could be one that even Madrid cannot afford given PSG are unlikely to welcome a bid and hardly need the money.
TM value: €150m | CIES value: €213m
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
The Belgium international is a recurring name on the Madrid rumour mill and although there have been flirtations from both sides, Hazard said last week that he was committed to Chelsea and would sign a new contract as soon as his international teammate, Thibaut Courtois, does so. His father had said a few days previously in an interview with Le Soir that Hazard was stalling on a new deal amid interest from the Bernabéu. This could be the saga of the 2018 summer window.
TM value: €100m | CIES value: €119.6
Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan)
Icari’s name has moved up the list of potential purchases and news from Italy that a new deal for the Argentina striker depends on Inter qualifying for next season’s Champions League - and a buy-out clause of 110 million euros that will remain unaltered if that doesn’t happen – will do little to dissuade Madrid. Icardi has bagged 18 goals in 20 Serie A games this season and at 24 years of age would represent a considerable rejuvenation of Madrid’s front line.
TM value: €75m | CIES value: €107.8m
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
The Poland international has long been a target for Real Madrid, who made an inquiry when Lewandowski was at Dortmund in 2013 but were pipped to the post by Bayern Munich. He was also under consideration in 2016 but the form of Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale precluded a deal. Lewandowski has apparently instructed his agents to engineer a move to the Bernabéu but with his 30th birthday approaching in August Lewandowski hardly fits the bill of a youthful acquisition. However, his added value in marketing and a solid World Cup could persuade Madrid he is a viable stop-gap.
TM vaule: €80m | CIES value: €107.5m
Paulo Dybala (Juventus)
Dybala’s fine 2016-17 season alerted Madrid but in recent weeks the Argentina international has become more of a step in a domino theory process. Dybala’s agent believes that if Neymar should arrive at the Bernabéu in the summer his client could replace the Brazilian at the Parc des Princes. Meanwhile, Manchester United are also thought to be in the market for the 24-year-old.
TM value: €85m | CIES value: €174.6m