REAL MADRID

Real Madrid ramp up plans to sign a central defender

Varane's possible departure and with talks to renew Sergio Ramos' contract at a dead end, Madrid must act fast. Alaba, Pau Torres and Koundé, the candidates.

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While Real Madrid are focused on signing a top forward in the next transfer window, they also have to make sure they are covered in central defence. Sergio Ramos has yet to renew his contract and the situation is dragging out much longer than the club and the player would have liked. The captain had hoped to have other offers but nothing has arrived and Madrid are standing firm on their proposal - a two-year extension plus 12 million euro salary, although subject to a 10% reduction for the first year. And meanwhile, Raphaël Varane is weighing up his options to leave. He feels that his time at Madrid may have run its course and is open to trying his luck in other leagues. He is under contract until 2022, so the club would listen to offers for him with a view to selling him rather than let him leave on a free next year.

With all of that in mind, the club is planning for next season and is conscious that they will have to sign at least one centre-back, possibly two. Although Madrid's main outlay this summer will be dedicated towards bringing in a striker (Mbappé and Haaland are the two names mentioned) they also hope to be able to sign a top level defender.

Alaba, a costly option for Madrid

David Alaba was the first option but the situation has changed. They would have to pay a signing-on fee but otherwise, the Austrian would be able to join on a free transfer when his  contract with Bayern expires on 30 June. The problem is the player's wage demands - he is asking for a minimum of 11 million euros per year, a figure which Madrid are not willing to pay. Also, Joan Laporta's return to FC Barcelona complicates negotiations even more.

If Varane ends up leaving, the club hopes to raise enough money from his sale to fund an  operation to sign his replacement. The 28-year-old is currently valued at 70 million euros, according to Transfermarkt. If Madrid sell Varane, they have two players in mind to replace him: Joules Koundé and Pau Torres. With Koundé, there are some doubts about whether it will be economically viable - Sevilla have set his buy-out clause at 80 million euros and are unlikely to be open to negotiate. Pau Torres is a more accessible option although he wouldn't come cheap - 40 million euros.

A busy summer awaits in the back offices at the Bernabéu. The club is willing to listen to all sides to find the best solution for all concerned, but will need to consider all of their available options with caution