REAL MADRID

Aguero, Giroud, Milik... Real Madrid's Jovic options

Luka Jovic's return to Eintracht Frankfurt has left Zidane with just Karim Benzema and Mariano as recognised strikers with his side struggling for goals.

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Aguero, Giroud, Milik... Real Madrid's Jovic options

The departure of Luka Jovic has left Real Madrid with a gap that needs filling as Zinedine Zidane contemplates going into the second half of the season with only two recognized number nines in Karim Benzema and Mariano, the latter of those two hardly enjoying a raft of minutes under the Frenchman at the Bernabéu. Madrid’s carefully laid plan – to lure Erling Haaland and / or Kylian Mbappé to the Spanish capital in 2022 – remains intact in the long-term but Zidane will require cover for Benzema rather sooner lest anything befall his compatriot.

There are several options on the market, ranging from those whose contractual situations are favourable to veterans, young guns and players agitating for an immediate move from their current clubs.

Madrid have traditionally not fared well in the January window but there are exceptions to the rule, such as Emmanuel Adebayor who arrived to help José Mourinho out of a spot and fitted the bill of being cheap and available.

Agüero leads the old guard

The option of bringing in an experienced campaigner in the final straight of his current contract is attractive, even if such a player will arrive with a hefty wage bill. The ability to adapt quickly to a new league is paramount and few players answer that description better for Madrid’s purposes than Sergio Agüero. The Argentina international is out of contract in June and knows LaLiga and the capital well after his time at Atlético. Madrid will face competition from PSG but Agüero could be persuaded to entertain a last hurrah at the Bernabéu – where he would be wished well by Atlético fans given the elapsed time between his Calderón days and 2021.

Another option in the same vein is Olivier Giroud, who is not getting the game time he would like at Chelsea and is also out of contract this summer. The France international is extremely unlikely to remain at Stamford Bridge beyond the end of the season and with Tammy Abraham back in action, Frank Lampard may even be persuaded to do business in January.

Old flames and bargains

Madrid have never been reluctant to call an old hand back when needs must and Raúl de Tomás has unfinished business at the Bernabéu after proving he can score goals on any stage. The 26-year-old remained at Espanyol when they went down last season and has continued to find the net at the RCDE. More than familiar with the club, De Tomás’ salary of €5m is little obstacle for Madrid and Espanyol have previously benefitted from the Bernabéu’s largesse in the loan market.

Arkadiusz Milik is another interesting proposition. The 26-year-old Poland international has fallen out favour at Napoli and could be available for a song, as well as very eager to make a move ahead of the European Championship. According to reports in Italy, Napoli would entertain offers of around the €10m mark for a player who has scored 38 times in 93 Serie A appearances.

Edouard, Traoré, Baodu among youthful options

Mayron Boadu (AZ Alkmaar), Lassina Traoré (Ajax) and Odsonne Édouard (Celtic).

Madrid have spent several years now combing the market for young prospects to bring in and turn into world-beaters, with Vinicius and Rodrygo among the success stories. The business model is solid enough: buy them young, cheap and with no pressure on their shoulders.

Two such players are currently plying their trade in the Eredivisie and attracting scouts from across Europe: Lassina Traoré (20) and Mayron Boadu (19), or Ajax and AZ Alkmaar respectively.

Traoré shot to fame when Ajax handed out a historic 13-0 drubbing to Venlo, the Burkina Faso forward bagging five goals and three assists. Schooled in the Ajax academy, Traoré comes from a football family – his mother was captain of the national team.

Boadu, already a Netherlands international, has been catching the eye at Alkmaar and has installed Mino Raiola as his agent, which is one of the stumbling blocks Madrid would face if they made a move for the 6ft tall striker. The Eredivisie side value Boadu at €15m and would probably want more if Madrid came knocking under the circumstances.

Another possibility is Celtic striker Odsonne Édouard. The 22-year-old, a product of PSG’s academy and a France under-21 international, has scored 11 goals in 23 appearances for The Hoops and is also valued at around €15m with a contract running until 2022. Édouard is also represented by Gareth Bale’s agent, Jonathan Barnett.