Real Madrid lost their crowns as Spanish and European champions last season, and will be desperate to win them back in 2023-24.
Los Blancos will have been upset by the way their season ended, and to make matters worse for the fans they have to deal with a big departure. Coinciding with the end of the campaign, Karim Benzema has confirmed he will be leaving Real Madrid after nine years this summer, ending a fruitful relationship for both player and club.
Benzema is being joined in departing by the likes of Eden Hazard, Marco Asensio and Mariano Diaz, but of course the Frenchman will be the biggest loss. It also means Madrid will have to look for a new striker this summer, with many expecting that to be their main transfer goal.
Joselu has come in on loan from Espanyol to remedy Benzema’s impending void, with club president Florentino Perez revealing that he will be their final purchase, following on from the signings of Jude Bellingham and Fran Garcia. However, there are suggestions Los Blancos are not done just yet.
Kylian Mbappe has emerged once again as a strong target for Real after the French sensation dropped the bombshell that he won’t be extending his deal with PSG beyond next summer. That leaves the Parisians in an awkward position, and one that Perez could look to capitalise on.
With that, we’ve taken a look at the strong rumours, bookmakers’ favourites with a couple of our own suggestions below…
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Although Mbappe revealed that he’s staying next season, a leaked letter sent from the player to PSG emerged earlier this month in which he declared his intentions not to trigger a one-year extension in his contract next year. That, effectively, means he will be a free transfer come 30 June 2024.
Due to this, club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has been left in a precarious position: sell now and reap the financial benefits, or keep hold of his prized asset for another season in the pursuit of European glory but lose him for zilch next summer. Al-Khelaifi has been backed into a corner.
As such, ESPN are now reporting that Real Madrid are confident of coming to an agreement with PSG this summer for Mbappe. They looked nailed on to land him last year, but for the Frenchman to pen a new deal in a surprise U-turn. Perez will now be licking his lips at the prospect of finally landing his man.
In terms of a direct replacement for Benzema, Harry Kane fits the stylistic brief, and then some.
Bayern Munich are the latest club to test Daniel Levy’s resolve with a £60m bid, a lowball offer some may claim, but he does turn 30 next year and he has only one year left on his contact.
Reports suggest the England international is open to the move following positive discussions with the club and Thomas Tuchel.
It is now up to Bayern to pony up enough dough to tempt Levy into finally sanctioning a transfer and recouping eye-watering funds for his centrepiece player.
Real are another club who have been credited with an interest. Carlo Ancelotti told Real that he wanted Kane in a transfer meeting earlier this month, though as things currently stand, Bayern remain the frontrunners for his signature.
Their only stumbling block? A very stubborn Daniel Levy.
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According to AS in May, Madrid were offered the opportunity to buy Vlahovic from Juventus.
It was only 18 months ago that Vlahovic was the one of the hottest strikers in Europe, banging goals in for fun and defying logic at Fiorentina. Many clubs were chasing his signature, but it was Juventus who ultimately won the race.
However, it hasn’t really worked out for Vlahovic, for one reason or another, so it appears the best option may be for both parties to move on.
Despite his struggles, Vlahovic still has a number of reported potential suitors this summer, so Madrid would have competition.
Another position to strengthen for Madrid is at full-back — with the left-back slot a more urgent requirement.
Ferland Mendy has struggled for form and fitness, which has led to them playing the likes of Eduardo Camavinga, Antonio Rudiger and Nacho Fernandez out of position, so there is a pressing need for a more reliable left-back.
According to Marca, Madrid have made enquiries about Alphonso Davies from Bayern Munich.
“It’s a chaotic moment at Bayern Munich,” Davies’ agent, Nedal Huoseh, said recently when asked about a potential new contract.
“I’m not sure what’s going on. There seems to be too much instability and uncertainty. Maybe it’s better if we wait a while and see how he’s doing at the club.”
Cancelo could be an alternative option, with the Portugal international tipped to leave Manchester City.
The defender is expected to depart the Etihad, having spent the second half of last season on loan at Bayern Munich.
Linked with Madrid and Barcelona, it has been reported by Fichajes that the former could pursue a deal for him.
Having recently signed Bellingham, BILD have reported that Madrid may well raid Borussia Dortmund again for Adeyemi.
One of the standout players in 2023, the speedy forward notched up nine goals and six assists during the second half of the season as BVB agonisingly missed out on the Bundesliga title.
With the likes of Hazard, Mariano and Asensio departing, Madrid and Ancelotti will welcome competition on the wings, while there is speculation Vinicius Junior may consider a switch to Paris Saint-Germain.
Adeyemi, who is under contract at Dortmund until 2027, is an avenue Los Blancos would only likely explore if Vinicius did depart for the French capital.
Three ways Real Madrid could line up next season
The 4-3-3 has been Real Madrid and Ancelotti’s go-to for quite some time, and it’s hard to see them deviating from it as their main formation.
Youth and pace
Should the opportunity to land Mbappe present itself, it is hard to see Madrid letting it pass.
Flanked by Vinicius and Valverde with Bellingham, Aurelien Tchouameni and Camavinga joining in from midfield, the prospect of the sheer pace at Los Blancos‘ disposal makes your eyes water.
However, Ancelotti isn’t completely one-dimensional and hasn’t been afraid to switch to a 4-2-3-1 in the past — particularly when playing against Barcelona.
Here, Madrid could start Mbapppe as the leading man but not completely isolate him in attack, with enough players around him to create a fluid front four.