Pogba or Eriksen: Real Madrid weigh up the pros and cons
The Manchester United star has issued a come-and-get-me plea, while the Tottenham man would be much the more affordable option...
Although a number of players who are surplus to requirements still need to be offloaded, Real Madrid's squad for next season is starting to take shape. With five new faces now brought in - Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic, Rodrygo Goes, Ferland Mendy and Éder Militao - all that remains is the signing of a midfielder. Paul Pogba and Christian Eriksen are the two prime targets, with the Frenchman seemingly the favourite to arrive in the Spanish capital.
Pogba: Zidane's choice for the Real Madrid midfield
Pogba is a player that Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is desperate for Los Blancos to snap up, having made plain his admiration for the Manchester United man in March when he said: "I like Pogba a lot, it's nothing new. I know him personally. He's a different kind of player, he brings so much and there are few who bring as much as he does. He's a midfielder who knows how to defend and how to attack. He knows how to do everything on the pitch."
Zidane's eagerness to work with his compatriot is a major reason to believe a deal will happen for Pogba, whose adaptation to life at Madrid would be helped by the growing Francophone group in the Bernabéu dressing room (in addition to Zidane himself, there is the coach's son Luca, Raphael Varane, Mendy, Karim Benzema, Thibaut Courtois and Hazard). It is a consideration that may serve to offset one of the chief concerns that the club have over Pogba's signing: the 26-year-old's entourage, headed up by his eccentric agent Mino Raiola.
Finances are the major obstacle towards getting a Pogba move over the line, with United in no rush to sell their chief star, for whom they paid a then-world-record 105 million euros to re-sign from Juventus in 2016. Having already invested around 300 million euros in summer recruits, Madrid would not only have to shell out a significant fee, but would also have to make Pogba one of their top earners. In the face of United's reluctance to do business, the player issued an apparent come-and-get-me-plea to suitors during a promotional tour of Asia a week ago, telling reporters it could be time "to have a new challenge".
Eriksen has been stalling on new Spurs deal with one eye on Madrid
Given his more affordable price and far more low-key character, Eriksen has been the Madrid hierarchy's preferred option to strengthen the midfield, but Pogba holds the ace card of being the coach's choice - and club bosses feel that, having lured Zidane back to a crisis-hit Bernabéu in March with promises of a summer squad revamp, they owe it to the 47-year-old to satisfy his demands on this score.
Eriksen has been at pains to keep himself available for a potential switch to Madrid. The Dane is out of contract at Tottenham Hotspur in 2020 and has spent months stalling on a new deal - a state of affairs that weakens the hand of Spurs' notoriously tough-negotiating chairman, Daniel Levy, and would lay the ground for a knockdown transfer fee. However, time is starting to work against Madrid, as Eriksen grows impatient with the LaLiga giants and starts to reconsider his future.
From a marketing point of view, Eriksen's signing would offer benefits. His purchase would open up the Danish market to Madrid: the 27-year-old is the undisputed number-one footballing star in Denmark, whose population stands at around six million, and his arrival at the 13-time European champions would have a major media impact in the Scandinavian nation.
However, Eriksen is a figure with less of a global reach than Pogba, whose boot sponsors Adidas - a brand which is, of course, also Madrid's kit supplier - have created a line of products that bears the star's name. Indeed, the Paul Pogba Collection was the reason for the recent tour on which the Frenchman made his seemingly move-seeking comments. There are 72 days left until the close of the transfer window in Spain - and just 46 to go until it shuts in the Premier League...
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