Luka Jovic: Real Madrid beat Barcelona to another signing
With his Bernabéu move now official, Los Blancos have once more stolen in ahead of their rivals to secure the signature of a coveted talent.
It has become something of a regular occurrence in recent times: Real Madrid and Barcelona both show an interest in a player and, after months of negotiations, it is Los Blancos who win the race to secure his signature.
Now, having already beaten Barça to Marco Asensio, Dani Ceballos, Theo Hernández, Vinicius, Rodrygo, Brahim Díaz and Éder Militao, Madrid have repeated the trick, snapping up Luka Jovic ahead of their arch rivals...
Asensio could have become a Barça player in 2014, even travelling to the Catalan capital to go house-hunting. However, the Blaugrana baulked at then-club Real Mallorca's asking price for the winger, preferring to offer a lower initial fee that would then be topped up by a range of add-ons. At that point, Madrid entered the running for the Spaniard and later that year paid 3.5m euros for a player who was immediately loaned back to Los Bermellones until the end of the season.
After a fine 2016/17 season at Real Betis, Ceballos was not short on suitors - and as Madrid circled, Barça sought to gazump the 13-time European champions and bring the midfielder in as a successor to Andrés Iniesta. Indeed, Betis vice-president - and ex-Barça coach - Lorenzo Serra Ferrer wanted the player to go to the Camp Nou, revealing: "Barcelona asked me for my opinion about Ceballos, and I gave it to them. You can readily imagine [what it was]." But Madrid pushed hard to get their man and Ceballos finally chose the Bernabéu, joining Los Merengues for 16.5m euros.
Theo Hernández excelled on loan at Alavés in 2016/17, and Barça were eager to sign the left-back from parent club Atlético Madrid. Indeed, the Blaugrana's then-sporting director, Robert Fernández, had also unsuccessfully tried to snare the Frenchman in summer 2016. Following the end of Theo's year-long stint at Mendizorroza, Barça were optimistic of snaring the player, having held talks with Atlético and forged an excellent relationship with his representative.
Barça saw Theo as the ideal replacement for Jérémy Mathieu... but then in stepped Madrid, and the defender didn't think twice. "I'll only go to Real," he even told his agent, who at that point was in conversations with representatives of Barça, and Los Blancos finally signed him for a fee slightly above his Atlético buy-out figure.
In an interview with the Spanish radio station Cadena SER, it was Vinicius himself who revealed: "Barcelona were the first to express an interest, and were willing to pay more, but then Real Madrid came in." Barça were after the next Neymar, but Camp Nou bosses were again left disappointed when the superstar's young compatriot was seduced by the project on offer at Madrid.
Another Brazilian who opted to pack his bags for Madrid rather than Barcelona. In a deal similar to the transfer that brought Vinicius to the Spanish capital from Flamengo, the Santos youth product is due to arrive at the Bernabéu this summer for 40m euros. Barça had also set their sights on the 18-year-old forward, but were offering significantly less than Madrid.
Madrid moved quickly to pay 17m euros and snare Brahim Díaz in January, despite the midfielder being available on a free in the summer. A player long admired by Barça (he joined City from Málaga in 2013 despite repeated Blaugrana overtures), the Camp Nou club had been keeping a close eye on his progress in Manchester, and were ready to pounce at the slightest opportunity. However, Madrid saw star potential in Brahim, and beat their rivals to the punch.
Éder Militao had been attracting the interest of a host of major European clubs, Barcelona included, when Madrid launched a 50m-euro swoop for the Porto central defender. Eager to strengthen their options at centre-back, Barça - who would go on to sign Jean-Clair Todibo - tabled a counter-offer that was higher than Madrid's bid, but Militao's mind was made up. He only wanted to go to the Bernabéu.
Eintracht Frankfurt's Luka Jovic had been linked with a January switch to Barça, but no firm bid was placed and, in the end, the LaLiga champions opted for a more modest signing, purchasing Kevin-Prince Boateng instead. It appeared that they'd then make their move for Jovic in the summer, but talks with Eintracht stalled, amid suspicions at the Camp Nou that another big club was also pushing for the Serbian... and they were right. Following Zinedine Zidane's return as coach, Madrid moved swiftly for the 21-year-old, and sealed the deal on Tuesday 4 June believed to be worth 60 million euros.
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