The Hard Tackle takes a look at the latest transfer news surrounding La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid as the summer window looms.
Barcelona and Real Madrid are staring at a summer of major rebuild, with their squads needing quite a bit of restructuring in the upcoming summer transfer window, after what was a disappointing 2020/21 campaign for both La Liga giants.
Barcelona have already gotten a headstart in the transfer market, with as many as four players already signed in the form of Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia, Emerson Royal and more recently, Memphis Depay. Real Madrid, meanwhile, are now starting to chalk out their transfer plans, after having had to sort out their managerial situation following the exit of Zinedine Zidane.
Carlo Ancelotti is back at the helm for the Spanish capital outfit and looks set to oversee a squad overhaul, with quite a few players he has previously worked with starting to be linked with a move to the Bernabeu. While there are expected to be a number of incomings at both Barcelona and Real Madrid, there will be some major exits as well. So, without much ado, let’s delve into the latest transfer happenings surrounding the La Liga bigwigs.
Real Madrid prioritise Jules Kounde transfer
With Sergio Ramos officially leaving the club and Raphael Varane likely to follow suit this summer, Real Madrid need to bring in another quality centre-half to supplement summer signing David Alaba, along with Eder Militao, Nacho and Jesus Vallejo, who returns after a loan spell. In order to do that, Los Blancos have identified Sevilla star Jules Kounde as their primary transfer target reports Mundo Deportivo.
The Frenchman has been one of the best defenders on show in La Liga since he arrived at Sevilla in the summer of 2019, leading to interest from the who’s who of Europe. In fact, the report claims that Manchester City have had an offer of €55 million rejected for Kounde last summer, while his release clause stands at a whopping €80 million.
Sevilla, for their part, have no intention of selling their prized asset and are hoping to tie him down to a new contract. So, Real Madrid will have to go big if they are to land Kounde this summer. If they end up missing out on him, the Merengues have lined up Villarreal ace Pau Torres as the backup option should Varane leave, the report concludes.
Liverpool, Manchester United prepare Raphael Varane offer
Speaking of Varane and a potential exit from the Santiago Bernabeu, Turkish journalist Ekrem Konur comes up with an update on the matter, claiming that Premier League bigwigs Manchester United and Liverpool are preparing to make offers for the Real Madrid defender.
Manchester United’s interest in Varane is not something new, with the Red Devils having already made a lucrative contract offer to the 28-year-old to try and convince him to move to Old Trafford this summer. As for Liverpool, they have bolstered their defensive ranks with the signing of Ibrahima Konate, so, it is hard to imagine they would be willing to splash the big bucks on yet another centre-half in the summer.
Varane’s situation has gotten to this stage because his contract with the La Liga giants expires in just over a year. However, having already lost Sergio Ramos, the Merengues’ president, Florentino Perez, does not want to lose another of his premier defenders and, to that end, has already initiated talks over a new contract with the Frenchman.
Atletico Madrid plotting Mariano Diaz swoop
From one key player potentially leaving Real Madrid, we move on to a fringe player whose departure is pretty much a given this summer. Mariano Diaz may have secured a sensational return to Real Madrid from Olympique Lyon in 2018 but has never been able to recapture his best form and has spent most of the time warming the benches.
Widely expected to leave before the next season starts, the centre-forward has now emerged as a potential transfer target for neighbours and reigning La Liga champions, Atletico Madrid, reports Fichajes. The Colchoneros are keen on a centre-forward to replace Diego Costa who left mid-season in 2020/21 while the futures of Joao Felix and Moussa Dembele at the club are also far from certain.
While Diaz hopes to stay put at Real Madrid and prove himself, the club do not see things the same way. With new manager Carlo Ancelotti targeting new signings in attack, the Merengues are keen on cashing in on the 27-year-old centre-forward this summer, with Atletico, who also have their eyes on Gareth Bale, now waiting in the wings.
Barcelona cede interest in Mikel Merino
Moving on from Real Madrid to Barcelona, the Catalan giants have already made quite the splash in the transfer market, bringing in four players through the doors at Camp Nou. However, one player who will not be making the switch to the Blaugrana this summer is Real Sociedad’s Spanish international midfielder, Mikel Merino, as reported by MARCA.
It is no secret by this point that Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman is keen on bringing in a new central midfielder, with question marks surrounding the future of Miralem Pjanic while Sergio Busquets is not getting any younger. With the Catalans having missed out on primary transfer target Georginio Wijnaldum, they have been linked with numerous other central midfield players over recent weeks.
One such player who has been on the radars of the Blaugrana is Mikel Merino. The 24-year-old has improved gradually since moving to Sociedad from Newcastle United in 2018, establishing himself as a permanent fixture in midfield at the Anoeta and registering on Barcelona’s radar. However, with La Real wanting his suitors to pay the entire release clause amount for him, the Catalans have decided to end their interest in him and pursue different routes.