Real Madrid: Big names in frame for exit as club plan for 2018/19
The close-season restructuring of Real's squad will in part be dependent on selling two or three players who can command sizeable transfer fees.
Out of the running in LaLiga and the Copa del Rey, Real Madrid are firmly focused on Champions League glory - and, at the same time, planning for next season.
The outcome of their European campaign will determine the exact extent of the changes made to the squad this summer, while the restructuring of the first-team group - a full-back, an anchorman, a wide attacking player and a centre-forward are the priorities - is also dependent on selling two or three men who can command sizeable fees.
Youngsters set to depart in search of game time
Real are expected to offload a good few of their squad players. The youngsters who were brought in last summer have struggled to make an impact and are set to be moved on to gain more regular football (either on loan or on permanent deals with buy-back clauses). The likes of Achraf Hakimi, Jesús Vallejo, Marcos Llorente, Borja Mayoral and Dani Ceballos will sit down and discuss their futures with the club, with most of them likely to leave.
Bale well placed to leave Bernabéu this summer
But on top of those players, some much bigger names in Zinedine Zidane's squad are also in contention to depart. That is the case of Gareth Bale, who is enduring the toughest period of his so far five-year stint at the Bernabéu. With the winger now almost 29, Florentino Pérez's dream of seeing the 101m-euro signing take on Cristiano Ronaldo's mantle has evaporated; indeed, the former Tottenham Hotspur man is running out of credit in the eyes of Real's powers-that-be.
Los Merengues are therefore seriously considering selling Bale in the close season. Despite his stop-start career in Spain - chiefly due to his recurring injury issues - Bale continues to enjoy a sterling reputation in the Premier League. He was targeted by Manchester United manager José Mourinho last summer, but was determined to stay in Madrid.
However, after a campaign in which he has lost his starting spot at Real Madrid, Bale is also thought to be weighing up a summer parting of ways, with reports in the UK claiming that United could make a renewed bid to secure his signature. Real are unlikely to let him go on the cheap, though, with figures within the club believed to be expecting a fee over the 100m mark.
Isco exit cannot be ruled out...
Another player whose departure cannot be ruled out right now is Isco, despite the midfielder extending his Real Madrid contract until 2022 as recently as September. The Spaniard, whose release clause is now 700m euros, is, like Bale, not enjoying his finest spell at the club. Having been a cornerstone of Zidane's side going into 2017/18, he has slipped down the pecking order as the season has progressed, starting just three of the last 10 games. And when he has been in the line-up, he has rarely lasted the full 90: of his 29 starts this term, he has been substituted in 23.
A number of European clubs are keeping a close eye on Isco's situation, with Pep Guardiola reportedly ready to offer 86m euros to take the 25-year-old to long-term admirers Manchester City. Chelsea are also thought to be interested, while another side who have been eyeing the former Málaga footballer for a while now is Juventus, although the Serie A champions would not be able to pay such a significant fee. He is set to weigh up his options this summer...
Kovacic also the subject of interest
Mateo Kovacic is also attacting attention across Europe, with England and Italy the two markets where the Croat is most catching the eye. Inter Milan - where he spent three years between 2012 and 2015 - AC Milan and Roma are all keen on the midfielder, and Spurs have also emerged as potential suitors. As things stand, neither Real nor Kovacic are considering a summer exit, but all will depend on the offers the club receives, and how the rest of the campaign goes...
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