The transfer ban given to Real Madrid by FIFA, world football’s governing body, leaves the La Liga club’s squad planning in the balance. Their plan had been to strengthen in three positions: left-back, central midfield and striker. Now, the January transfer window is shaping up as a busy one.
Although Madrid are confident they will be able to register players in the summer while they exhaust their avenues of appeal, as things currently stand they cannot. Indeed, Ernesto Bronzetti, an agent who has worked with club president Florentino Pérez on a number of transfers, told Italian television on Thursday: “Madrid will have to make signings now.”
In attack, the two names most heavily linked with Real Madrid are Robert Lewandowski and Álvaro Morata. A deal for the Pole would not prove straightforward even in the summer (were the transfer ban suspended), and signing him this winter appears nigh on impossible.
In the case of Morata, Madrid have a buy-back option on the academy graduate which, were they to pay Juventus €35 million, they would be able to activate now. The 23-year-old, who is focused on making the Spain squad for Euro 2016, has slipped down the pecking order at the Italian champions. At Madrid, he would offer an alternative to Karim Benzema.
In midfield, Real’s mission is no more simple. Juventus’ Paul Pogba is the man at the head of Zinedine Zidane’s wishlist, with Bronzetti commenting: “We’ll have to see what strategy Florentino uses with him.” Also on the club’s radar is long-time target Marco Verratti of Paris Saint-Germain. The problem in both instances is that it seems unthinkable that either Juve or PSG will countenance selling key engine-room figures in January.
Meanwhile, the presence in Zidane's squad of James Rodríguez, Danilo and Casemiro, who fill the three spots available for non-EU players, is a stumbling block to the option of bringing out-on-loan midfielder Lucas Silva back into the fold.
At left-back, however, Fabio Coentrao’s loan at Monaco comes to an end in the summer and, with three years left on his contract, the Portuguese would be able to fit right back in as understudy to first-choice Marcelo.