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Real Madrid interested in signing Chelsea defender Reece James

Last season, Madrid drew up a list of possible reinforcements that included names such as Cancelo, Foyth and James.

Reece James, Chelsea player on the Real Madrid agenda.

Real Madrid are focused on ending the season strongly, by winning one of the two titles still up for grabs (Copa del Rey and Champions League). There is not a lot talk of signings, although they are certainly working on them: Jude Bellingham is the priority, but not the only player being looked at. At the LaLiga club, they are discussing the idea of bringing in a right-back for competition for Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vázquez and there are several names on the table.

Last season, Madrid drew up a list of possible reinforcements that included names such as Joao Cancelo, Juan Foyth and Reece James, who is the first name on the list and the favourite of the Madrid staff. The Chelsea defender, who is just 23, is very much liked at Valdebebas, but Madrid know that signing him from the Premier League club won’t be easy.

Chelsea are not in the habit of selling unless they have no other option; this was seen in the cases of Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard, who were transferred when they had a year left on their contracts and refused to renew, aware that Madrid were after them.

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New Chelsea deal for James

James renewed his contract with Chelsea in September 2022 and extended his contract until 2028. Chelsea need to sell in the summer to balance their books and James is one of their most prized assets. The club changed ownership last summer, forced by the UK government’s sanctions on Roman Abramovic for his connections to Vladimir Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the background, and in came Todd Boehly, who already had stakes in other major sporting entities such as the Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) and baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers.

Boehly sacked Thomas Tuchel to sign Graham Potter and invested a huge amount in signings between the summer and winter transfer windows. In came Enzo Fernandez (€120m), Fofana (€80m), Mudryk (€70m), Cucurella (€65m), Sterling (€56m), Badiashile (€38m), Koulibaly (€38m), Mudeke (€35m) and Malo Gusto (€30m), but the London club already know that this summer they will have to make major sales to meet the financial requirements of the Premier League and UEFA. They have just released the accounts for the 2021-22 season, the last under the ownership of Abramovic, with a loss of €140m. And they had already lost more than €170m in the 2020-21 campaign, when they became European champions.

Premier League financial control specifies that a maximum loss of €120m can be accumulated over the last three seasons. Chelsea are almost certainly in a position to be in breach of that rule, something for which the league has already opened proceedings against Everton, with a possible loss of points on the table. Mason Mount is the most talked-about name, but he is not the only one. James is Chelsea’s second most valuable player on Transfermarkt at €70m, behind only Enzo Fernandez (€80m).

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Havertz interest

Madrid could take advantage of this need to generate income from the sale of players to try to find a new top-level right-back to strengthen their squad for the next decade. There are other interesting players in the Chelsea squad, such as Kai Havertz, for whom Madrid already showed interest in when he was still playing for Bayer Leverkusen, but the COVID-19 pandemic put the brakes on everything.

To top it all off, the two clubs will meet in the Champions League quarter-finals and it will be an opportunity for Florentino Pérez and José Ángel Sánchez to get to know the new Chelsea owners. Relations were good with the previous management, especially with Abramovich’s right-hand woman at the club, Marina Granovskaia.