Real Madrid will reportedly have to battle German champions Bayern Munich for the signing of Spanish defender Mario Hermoso.

According to a report from Spanish outlet Don Balon, Real Madrid’s pursuit of Espanyol defender Mario Hermoso is set to get complicated, with German heavyweights Bayern Munich entering the race for his signing.

The 23-year-old Hermoso came through the youth ranks at Real Madrid and had a loan spell away at Real Valladolid, before leaving the club on a permanent basis to join Espanyol in the summer of 2017. After enjoying a decent debut campaign, the Spaniard has come into his own in the ongoing season.

So far in the 2018-19 term, Hermoso has featured in 12 La Liga games, scoring two goals and helping Espanyol to five clean sheets in the process. His development has put Real Madrid on high-alert, with the Merengues keen on securing defensive reinforcements.

Real Madrid’s start to the new season has been anything but solid. Issues in attack have dominated the headlines, but Los Blancos have not been solid at the back either. World Cup winner Raphael Varane has been in torrid form, while club captain Sergio Ramos has not been his usual solid self either.

With utility man Nacho not impressing and Jesus Vallejo struggling with injuries, Real Madrid have been stretched thin at the back. As a result, they have been left seeking for reinforcements at the back, with Hermoso emerging as a serious target ahead of the January transfer window.

Man in demand (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images,)

Man in demand (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images,)

However, they are not the only club interested in the 23-year-old, with German champions Bayern Munich also monitoring the Spaniard.

Much like Real, Bayern too have had a difficult start to the 2018-19 campaign under new manager Niko Kovac. The Bavarian giants currently sit fifth in the Bundesliga, following their 3-2 defeat to leaders Borussia Dortmund this past weekend.

Seasoned campaigner Jerome Boateng has struggled for form after a disastrous 2018 FIFA World Cup, while fellow German defender Mats Hummels has looked uncharacteristically sluggish and error-prone at the back. Die Roten are intent on resolving the defensive issues and are believed to have identified Hermoso as an ideal long-term partner for Niklas Sule.

To that end, Bayern are reportedly willing to pay the €40 million release clause in the 23-year-old’s contract with Espanyol, which is significantly higher than the €7.5 million Real Madrid are entitled to pay, owing to a clause inserted during the centre-back’s sale last year.

With two European heavyweights vying for his signature, Hermoso could very well be on his way out of Espanyol in the January transfer window. As to whether he ends up at Bayern Munich or Real Madrid, the ball firmly lies in the Spaniard’s court.