REAL MADRID

Real Madrid: Gabriel is Zidane's alternative to Upamecano

Upamecano is the centre-back who Zidane would love to buy if it wasn't for his high transfer fee. Madrid have also been following Lille's young defender, cheaper option...

Question marks remain over who should fill the third centre-back role at Real Madrid with Militao having failed to convince and the chances of landing Dayot Upamecano diminishing. The Leipzig defender is the one Zidane wants, but not at the kind price which is being mentioned. With football entering a crisis in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, Madrid need to cut back on spending. Leipzig might be willing to lower the player's retention fee from 60 million euros to around two third of that, Bayern are now ahead of them in the race to sign the player although Upa's agent has doubts that the defender will be going anywhere this summer.

That has forced Madrid to look at other options for the centre-back position. Juni Calafat, who is in charge of transfers at the club, has been following Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes, who is one possible alternative, and more within Madrid's price range...

Gabriel ticks all of the boxes which Madrid look for in the transfer market. He's young (he turned 22 in December) has experience of European football (he is a key player for Lille, who ended fourth in Ligue 1), he's international at Under-23 level with Brazil and has an advantage over Militao in that he is left-footed, which makes him an ideal companion for Ramos or Varane, both of whom are right-sided.

Lille need to sell, foreign player quota...

Lille would have no qualms about selling Gabriel to boost the club coffers. President Gerard Lopez permitted five first team players to leave last season to bring in 143 million euros. While it was a struggle for Gabriel to break into the first team, he was a bargain buy for the club who paid Brazilian outfit Avaí just 3 million euros for his services. His current market value is around 20 million - a much cheaper option than Upamecano. There is just one small snag with Gabriel - he would occupy the place of a non-EU player and right now, Madrid have no room for another foreign player although they are hoping Vinicius will gain his duel passport soon to free up one of the non-EU places.

Another inconvenience is Chelsea. At the end of April, it looked like Gabriel could be on his way to Stamford Bridge after the player hinted as much in the media. But like Upamecano, his future remains undecided. For the moment he is Madrid's Plan B for a transfer window that will be like no other.