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REAL MADRID

Real Madrid: Zidane, Pérez eye different Varane replacements

Real Madrid: Pérez eyes Atlético's Giménez as Varane replacement

Zinedine Zidane favours a move for Kalidou Koulibaly if Raphael Varane leaves Real Madrid, but Florentino Pérez's sights are set elsewhere.

Centre-back Raphael Varane wants to leave Real Madrid at the end of the season and, having reportedly informed Los Blancos of his desire to depart, has left the LaLiga club combing the market for a replacement.

Zidane keen on Koulibaly, Pérez wants Giménez

Two players are of particular interest at the Bernabéu. Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly is Zinedine Zidane's preferred option: the Senegal international has long been on the Madrid head coach's radar, with the Frenchman also urging the club to sign him during his first spell as Bernabéu boss. Meanwhile, club president Florentino Pérez is understood to favour a move for Atlético Madrid's José María Giménez.

When Giménez, 24, attended the Copa Libertadores final at the Bernabéu in December, Pérez made sure to seek him out for a chat - a course of action he often takes when a transfer target visits the stadium. For example, he did likewise with then-Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski after Madrid's Champions League exit to the Germans in 2013, approaching the Pole and asking him if he was interested in playing for Los Merengues. (Unfortunately for Pérez, Lewandowski had already agreed to join Bayern Munich).


Read also | Real Madrid news in brief: Bale, Marcelo, Benzema, Zidane...


Neither Koulibaly nor Giménez a straightforward target

Having also eyed a swoop last summer, Madrid's interest in Giménez is not new. However, it's a signing that looks to be far from straightforward. The Uruguayan, who in mid-2018 signed a five-year contract extension that saw his release clause rise to 120m euros, is a player whose sale Atleti are thought to be totally unwilling to countenance, particularly given Lucas Hernández's end-of-season move to Bayern, and the likelihood that Diego Godín will also leave.

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Prising Koulibaly from Napoli won't be easy, either. At the start of the season, the Serie A club tied the 27-year-old down to an improved, long-term deal that is due to run until 2023 - and as of 2020 will contain a 150m-euro buy-out clause - while Partenopei coach Carlo Ancelotti has declared he'll fight tooth and nail to prevent the defender from departing, even quipping that he'd "chain myself to the gates" if either the Senegalese or midfielder Allan were sold.