Real Madrid: Bale, James, Kovacic lead €250m fire sale
The Bernabéu board are looking to recoup quarter of a billion euros in sales to cover the arrivals of Hazard, Jovic, Militão, Mendy and maybe another Galáctico.
With Eden Hazard, Éder Militão, Ferland Mendy and Luka Jovic arriving at the Bernabéu already this summer – and the potential for another superstar signing such as Paul Pogba or Christian Eriksen still very much on the table – Real Madrid need to balance the books and have identified the players they intend to barter in an attempt to rustle up the 250 million euros they have already spent ahead of the 2019-20 season.
At the top of Florentino Pérez’s to-do list is to part company with a player he has always staunchly defended after making him then the world’s most expensive player in 2013: Gareth Bale. Despite helping Madrid to four Champions League titles, a Liga triumph, a Copa del Rey and a raft of other trophies, the Welshman has had a torrid time with injuries, seems to have fallen out terminally with Zinedine Zidane and will be 30 before the new season kicks off. All of that points to an exit for the winger, with Real eager to recoup a decent chunk of the €101m they stumped up six years ago. Pérez will attempt to start the bidding at €80m but may have to settle for far less with the door to his office not exactly being bludgeoned by suitors.
The next big name on the departure list is James Rodríguez, who also has his historical differences with Zidane and is unlikely to find himself brought back in the from the cold by the Frenchman in his second Bernabéu stint. Bayern Munich decided against exercising their purchase option of €42m but Real will hope to rake in a similar amount with Napoli and Juventus reportedly interested and Cristiano Ronaldo eager to bring his old assist-machine back into service in Turin.
Bale and James are the most succulent offerings in Real’s shop window but Mateo Kovacic also has no future at the Bernabéu and will be sold this summer. Chelsea have until June 30 to decide if they want to extend Kovacic’s Stamford Bridge stay but with Maurizio Sarri on the verge of moving to Juventus, the Croatian’s situation has suddenly become less clear. Signed for €30m from Inter, Kovacic had few chances to impress at the Bernabéu but became an integral part of Sarri’s squad last season as the Blues lifted the Europa League title. In any case, Real will look to at least get back what they paid for the midfielder, who is perennially linked with a return to Serie A.
Llorente, Ceballos, Mayoral, Mariano all to be discarded
Other potential fall-guys this summer are Marcos Llorente and Dani Ceballos, who Real value at around €40m each. In reality, they will probably have to settle for about half of that amount for both, who are very much surplus to requirements and will not be loaned out unless entirely necessary.
Mariano and Borja Mayoral are also likely to leave this summer, with Hazard to inherit the number seven shirt from the striker and Mayoral, who spent last season on loan at Levante, publicly stating he wouldn’t mind a move to Real Sociedad. The pair may fetch around €20-30m to which can be added, if a touch optimistically, the €10m Real paid the Frogs for Keylor Navas back in 2014. The Costa Rica keeper seems set to be unceremoniously dumped in favour of Thibaut Courtois (or recently anointed under-20 World Cup winner and Golden Glove Andriy Lunin) and a keeper of his caliber would not be expected to fetch single figures in the current climate, although there have been no offers yet.
The cases of Isco and Marco Asensio are distinct. Both players are admired by Zidane and the board but neither has quite had the impact expected of them at the Bernabéu and if a suitable offer comes in for either - both are valued at around €60-70m - then it will be entertained, but Real’s priorities lie further down the pecking order with the club yet to make a single sale so far this summer.