Bale, James, Keylor: Real Madrid's hard work starts now

The Bernabéu has finally managed to shift some players but those that remain and are surplus to rerquirements will be more difficult to move on.

Gareth Bale, en un entrenamiento del Real Madrid en Montreal.

Real Madrid face the trickiest part of their pre-season planning with a month to go until the 2019-20 campaign gets underway, and it does not involve prising Paul Pogba from Manchester United.

Zinedine Zidane’s side are currently in Canada as they prepare for the new season and while plenty of excitement surrounds new faces such as Eden Hazard, Rodrygo and Luka Jovic, it is the sight of some more familiar that will be providing the Real boss with a headache.

The Bernabéu board have managed to shift some of the players who are surplus to requirements after a worryingly slow start to the transfer window on the exits from, since the beginning of July Mateo Kovacic, Raúl de Tomás, Sergio Reguilón, Martin Odegaard, Theo Hernández and Luca Zidane have all been moved on while Marcos Llorente left for Atlético on June 20. In total, Real have recouped 115 million euros from those deals, which covers the cost of signing Eden Hazard from Chelsea.

The problem for Zidane, Florentino Pérez and the board and that the squad remains bloated and there has so far been little interest in the acquiring of the services of others who Real are keen to offload with 30 players currently on the books and Liga rules specifying a registered squad of 25 (although Rodrygo could drop down to play for Castilla if necessity requires it).

Bale, James lead list of big-name stars Real want to offload

The most obvious example of this inertia is Gareth Bale, who seemingly has no place in Zidane’s plans. The Welshman would prefer to stay at the Bernabéu and is settled in Madrid. But the club would like to cash in on a player they made the world’s most expensive at the time they signed him from Tottenham in 2013. However, there have been no offers and the hope that Manchester United would accept Bale and a fee for Pogba appears to have evaporated. Tottenham cannot afford to buy back their former talisman and nobody has made an official inquiry.

The case of James Rodríguez is more curious: Napoli want the Colombia international and he is content to move, but Real Madrid remain truculent on a fee. The Serie A club would like a loan deal with a purchase option next summer but Madrid maintain they will only consider a permanent transfer for around the €40m-mark. However, as the clock ticks down that stance is likely to soften.

Also on the books but very much for sale are Dani Ceballos, Mariano Díaz, Borja Mayoral and Keylor Navas, with some doubts over the futures of previously important squad players like Isco, Lucas Vázquez, Marco Asensio and Nacho, who suddenly finds himself third-choice across the back line.

Should Real manage to find a buyer for Bale, loan or sell James to Napoli and find suitors for Ceballos, Díaz and Mayoral, Zidane’s squad will be trimmed to the necessary number. That would leave a fairly serious-looking bench for Zidane to choose from and go some way to clawing back the rest of the €300m Pérez has splashed out already this summer.

However, if no offers are forthcoming, Real’s transfer policy this summer will be come under some scrutiny with half a dozen players either having their contracts bought out of being paid handsomely to train with the reserves.