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SOCCER

Real Madrid prepare moves for Manchester City’s Haaland, Cancelo

AS has learned that Real Madrid are eyeing a swoop for João Cancelo next summer, before going after Erling Haaland in 2024.

Update:
AS has learned that Real Madrid are eyeing a swoop for João Cancelo next summer, before going after Erling Haaland in 2024.
Reuters

Despite the success Real Madrid are currently enjoying - Los Blancos are the LaLiga, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Spanish Super Cup holders - the club certainly aren’t resting on their laurels when it comes to short and medium-term squad planning. There are several targets on Madrid’s radar as they consider how to strengthen a first-team group whose future already looks bright, given it boasts a deluxe sextet of youngsters: Éder Militão, Aurélien Tchouaméni, Eduardo Camavinga, Fede Valverde, Rodrygo Goes and Vinícius Júnior. Among the players Madrid’s gaze has settled on are a Manchester City duo who are highly rated at the Bernabéu: João Cancelo and Erling Haaland.

Real Madrid are long-term admirers of Cancelo

Madrid’s interest in Cancelo is nothing new. During his four-year spell in LaLiga with Valencia, the full-back impressed with his adventurous attacking play. His displays for Los Che, coupled with his form for Inter Milan and Juventus in a subsequent stint in Italy, earned him a move to Pep Guardiola’s City. Next summer, Cancelo will be 29; as a result, he is expected to be available for a fee of €40m to €50m at the most, despite being under contract until 2027. Carlo Ancelotti knows the player well from his recent spell in England as head coach of Everton, and admires Cancelo’s versatility. He is currently operating as a left-back at City, but his natural position is on the right flank.

The Portugal international is performing exceptionally on the left at the Etihad Stadium. Now in his fourth season at City, he has made 138 appearances for the Premier League champions, scoring eight goals and supplying 19 assists. At Madrid, the left-back role is currently occupied by Ferland Mendy and, from time to time, David Alaba. However, Ancelotti prefers to use Alaba at centre-back alongside Militão; it’s the defensive partnership that helped propel Madrid to the Spanish and European titles last season. Mendy is out of contract in 2025 - and talks over an extension have stalled as a result the Frenchman’s wage demands, which the club feel are excessive. Mendy’s contract situation could boost the prospects of a Madrid swoop for Cancelo. AS understands that the Portuguese is aware of their interest and is open to joining a club where several international colleagues - chiefly Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe - have had immense success.

Haaland has scored 14 goals in his first 10 appearances since joining Manchester City from Borussia Dortmund in the summer.
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Haaland has scored 14 goals in his first 10 appearances since joining Manchester City from Borussia Dortmund in the summer.Marc AtkinsGetty

Haaland City exit clause comes into play in 2024

As for Haaland, the Norway striker turned down the option of a move to Real Madrid earlier this year. Initial contact was made with the player’s father, Alf-Inge, who visited the club’s Valdebebas training complex with the late agent Mino Raiola, and sat down with Madrid general manager José Ángel Sánchez. However, Haaland did not want to compete with striker Karim Benzema at the Bernabéu and instead opted for City, where he was likelier to be starting week in, week out. The 22-year-old still dreams of some day playing for Madrid, though, leading him to negotiate a €180m buy-out clause that takes effect in summer 2024. At that point, Los Merengues plan to move for Haaland. While it’s a lot of money, it’s a far from exorbitant amount to pay for such an insatiable goalscorer. In two years’ time, he’ll be completely ready to take over from Benzema, 34, who is expected to last another two seasons or so at his current level of performance.

See also: Statue stories - Haaland, Ronaldo and other soccer sculptures gone wrong

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