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Real Madrid preferred signing Militao over De Ligt

Matthijs de Ligt has become the latest player to enter Real Madrid's agenda. But it turns out the Dutchman was on the table over a year ago before the club eventually opted for Militao.

Real Madrid preferred signing Militao over De Ligt

Super-agent Mino Raiola’s improved relations with Real Madrid have made the signings of Paul Pogba and Erling Haaland more feasible. And in recent weeks, another of his clients, Matthijs de Ligt, the central defender who was ruled out at the Bernabéu in favour of Éder Militao, has joined Madrid’s agenda of potential signings.

The fast rise of De Ligt, one of the stars of Ajax’s bumper year in 2018-19 when the Dutch club knocked Real Madrid out of the Champions League and went on to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1997, had been well flagged by Europe’s heavyweights, with Barcelona and Juventus entering a drawn-out battle to sign the talented Ajax captain.

He eventually ended up in Turin after Juve paid a staggering 75 million euros (plus 10.5 million in add-ons) to put him among the most expensive defenders of all time.

Why Real Madrid opted for Militao over De Ligt?

Before the battle ensued between Barça and Juve towards the business end of last season, De Ligt – who has not got off on the best foot in Turin and is already pondering a move towards the exit door – had been one of the options considered by Real Madrid in its search for defensive reinforcements.

However, as AS has learned, the Bernabéu sporting directorate eventually opted for Militao, mainly due to his availability, price tag and profile. Given Madrid’s good relations with Porto and Militao’s lower status than De Ligt, the club felt securing the Brazilian defender’s signature could be done more quickly and easily. For one thing, Militao wasn’t demanding – as De Ligt had done – to be given until the end of the season to make a decision on his future.

De Ligt in action for Juventus.
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De Ligt in action for Juventus.TF-ImagesGetty Images

In the end, Militao cost Real Madrid 50 million euros, 25 million less than De Ligt, who was still offered to the Bernabéu even after the former had been signed.

Doubts hang over Militao

Another factor in Madrid’s decision was the fact that Militao’s physical and technical profile was seen as more in tune with Madrid’s style. In addition to being versatile, having also played at right back for Porto, he was also considered to trump De Ligt, for example, in terms of speed of ball delivery from the back.

However, like De Ligt at Juventus, Militao has had a somewhat unconvincing first season at Madrid. But while his performances have generated doubts, he has also managed to maintain those who defend him.

His advocates argue that he is a talented footballer and established Brazilian international who needs to be given time to adapt and more minutes on the field. To date, Zinedine Zidane, who had little to do with his signing, has given him 992 minutes, putting him at 17th position in the squad in terms of minutes played.


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