Liverpool star Sadio Mane’s future will be a source of much debate over the coming months.
Of course, at the moment, Liverpool are well-protected. They have Mane tied down for another three years, and there is absolutely no pressure on them to sell.
While The Daily Mirror has reported that Real could have to pay up to £140m, even that figure may not be enough to tempt Liverpool into selling.
The crux of the issue, then, comes down to the Senegal international, who has won 61 caps for his country.
He has grown into a world-beater at Anfield, scoring 77 goals and laying on 34 assists in total across 161 games.
But one has to wonder if a move to Real may appeal, if not this summer – when Liverpool will surely be celebrating their Premier League title win after football resumes – then maybe next.
Indeed, following the conclusion of the 2020/21 season, Mane will be 28, with two years left on his contract.
That is a danger zone for Liverpool and the ex-Southampton man could well pursue a move.
He has, after all, already won the Champions League with the Reds. The Premier League, for want of a better word, is buffering. A move to Real, still perhaps the biggest club in world football, could cap a remarkable rise for the winger.
He began his career at Metz, moved to RB Salzburg, became an established Premier League player at Southampton, and is now a star at Liverpool.
Becoming a galactico at Real Madrid would be the logical next step, and it would also allow Mane to move out of Mohamed Salah’s shadow.
The two connect fantastically up front but it often feels like the limelight is more on Salah – he’s a Puskas winner, and holds the record for most goals in a 38-game Premier League season.
Signs of frustration emerged when tempers boiled over during a win over Burnley in October, leading to a dressing room confrontation, after Salah failed to slot in Mane for a simple goal and instead took the effort on himself.
Perhaps that’s a deeper-lying theme edging Mane towards an eventual exit, but whether it happens this summer or next, expect the rumours to keep swirling.