It’s rare that a football news story from abroad captures English fans more than matters inside the Premier League during a transfer window, but on Monday afternoon Real Madrid’s decision to axe former Liverpool and Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez made headlines and dominated search engines well beyond Spain’s borders.
Although Los Blancos are only four points off the summit of La Liga, the notoriously ruthless Bernabeu chiefs once again wielded their managerial axe and rid themselves of Benitez, who has, if speculation is to be believed, lost various members of his senior squad and the support of the crowd. Real icon Zinedine Zidane has since stepped up from his role in charge of their reserve outfit – Castilla – and is in temporary charge, but what does this mean for some of the team’s star names?
Well, their futures may be unclear and clubs such as Manchester United and Arsenal are sure to be looking over towards Madrid, planning for the possibility of 2016 transfers. Although any moves this month appear unlikely, here are FIVE players that may be interesting Arsene Wenger and Louis van Gaal.
The BIG ONE… reports are already circulating that Man United are ready to take full advantage of any form of uncertainty at Real with a £75m move for Gareth Bale. In reality, it’s more likely that the Red Devils will have to pay close to double that figure for the player who still holds the record as being the most expensive in the history of the game (Los Blancos paid Spurs £86m in 2013), but if any club on the planet could fund such a move it would be the Manchester giants.
We’re yet to see how Zidane opts to use Bale – who is ‘disappointed’ by Benitez’s exit – or how a potential experienced manager to come in at the end of the season, or earlier, views the Welshman, but with the ex-Southampton flyer having endured some tricky times in Spain, he could be tempted by a move to familiar territory in the very prime of his career.
Although not quite a player of the calibre Arsenal fans may be seeking as they look for their club to move up to the next level, Jese is by no means an option to be overlooked. The young forward has been in and around the Real first-team for much of the past few seasons, but with his game time having been relatively limited, at the age of 22 he’s at somewhat of a crossroads in his career.
Perhaps Zidane will look to use the starlet more often, but with players like Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Isco, James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric all available, it appears unlikely that he’ll be made a figurehead of a new-look team.
Another high-profile player to be linked with catching a flight from Madrid to Manchester is Rodriguez. The Colombian was one of many stars to have grown ‘unsettled’ under Benitez at the Bernabeu, with the Spanish coach’s more defensively responsible style of play having restricted the talented ex-Porto and Monaco man.
If ‘Zizou’s’ playing style is anything to go by, he’s probably appreciate Rodriguez’s talents, but the Frenchman has plenty of options and may even be eager to bring a few names from his ‘Castilla’ side up to the big time, which could have an impact on the 24-year-old’s status.
Although Arsenal have a wealth of attacking midfielders, a player of Isco’s quality would be a welcome addition. The creative playmaker has long been talked about as one of Spain’s best youngsters, but since his 2013 move from Malaga to Real, he’s found it difficult to cement a regular role in the starting XI, either as a ‘No.10’ or in a deeper, central midfield position.
Arsenal are one of many sides to have been aligned with a move for the silky passer, who at the age of 23 is sure to be desperate to play week in, week out for a top quality club side. Will Zidane use him? We’ll have to wait and see.
This would be a stunner of a move, but according to respected football journalist Tancredi Palmeri, Kroos could be “tempted” by Man United. And we’re sure the Manchester side will be equally as tempted by the German playmaker, who looks to possess the sort of creativity LVG’s midfield appears to lack.
Although it could be seen as a step down from Kroos’ perspective, it remains to be seen what role he will play under Zidane or his eventual successor, who may opt to partner Luka Modric with a more defensively resolute option.