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Will Sporting CP central defender Gonçalo Inácio join Real Madrid?

Amid concern at the Bernabéu over the club’s centre-back options, Real Madrid are targeting Sporting CP and Portugal’s Gonçalo Inácio.

Amid concern at the Bernabéu over the club’s centre-back options, Real Madrid are targeting Sporting CP and Portugal’s Gonçalo Inácio.
Carlos RodriguesGetty Images

With Real Madrid’s central defence causing concern among club chiefs, Los Blancos are keeping tabs on Sporting CP’s Gonçalo Inácio.

Madrid are considering a move for the 22-year-old either in January or next summer, given the uncertainty surrounding a number of their present centre-back options. Éder Militão is currently in the midst of a long-term recovery from a serious knee injury, while David Alaba’s recent form has not been convincing and Nacho Fernández’s future at the Bernabéu is unclear.

Inácio impressing for club and country

Inácio has established himself as a Madrid target thanks not only to his sterling displays for Sporting, who sit second in the Portuguese league, but also his emergence as an increasingly important figure in the Portugal set-up.

Madrid would face competition for the defender’s signature, most notably from Premier League club Manchester United. The Red Devils are believed to be eyeing a swoop for the youngster in the winter transfer window. However, sources close to Inácio say the player would prefer a move to Madrid over any other club in world soccer: he dreams of pulling on the shirt previously worn by Portuguese idols such as Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Sporting to seek Inácio buy-out figure

It has already been made clear to Los Merengues that they would have to meet the €60 million ($65 million) release clause in Inácio’s Sporting contract - albeit the 19-time Portuguese champions would be willing to break this sum down into a more manageable payment plan. The Leões are thought to be ready to accept an initial €45m fee, with the remaining €15m paid as a series of incentivised add-ons that Inácio would have little problem in triggering.

The coming weeks are set to be key to deciding the defender’s future. Sources in Portugal have told AS that his next move may well be decided by the end of November or early December, with a January exit seen as a likely outcome. The same sources view Madrid and United as the only real candidates to secure his services.

International goalscorer already

A product of Sporting’s youth academy, Inácio has made 136 first-team appearances since his debut in October 2020, scoring 11 times for the Lisbon club. He has been capped four times by Portugal, netting his first two international goals in the Seleção’s 9-0 Euro 2024 qualifying win over Luxembourg in September.