About to begin its second decade without Champions League trophy, Real Madrid is working to alter the face of its club to end the drought. Manager Jose Mourinho has targeted a summer makeover around a central midfielder, a right back and a winger.
Negotiations have been opened with Tottenham Hotspur over the transfer of Luka Modric. Particularly admired by Madrid president Florentino Perez, the Croatia international sought a move away from White Hart Lane 12 months ago without success. Things have changed since, as Tottenham is now prepared to discuss terms for the versatile midfielder, who is contracted to them until 2016.
Daniel Levy, Tottenham's chairman and a famously aggressive negotiator of transfers and salaries, has asked for Nuri Sahin and Ricardo Carvalho, in addition to a large cash fee. Sahin, a Turkish international who struggled to adapt his passing game to Madrid's transition-focused tactics in his first season at the Bernabeu, made just four Liga appearances but said he would resist a move to the Premier League.
Carvalho has a season left on his Madrid contract and has been waiting to hear Tottenham's proposed personal terms. Carvalho's struggles with a back problem last season forced Mourinho to employ Alvaro Arbeloa on the right side of his defense for the majority of Madrid's Liga-winning campaign. The area was frequently identified by opponents as the team's clearest weak point, prompting the search for an alternative option.
Mourinho's preference is for an assertive, technically capable right back with sufficient height to compensate for the use of either Fabio Coentrao or Marcelo in the other full back position. Real made a preliminary approach for Branislav Ivanovic but was rejected by Chelsea. The club scouted young Brazilian international Mario Fernandes, but he was ultimately allowed to move from Gremio to CSKA Moscow for €15 million because of concerns over his mental attitude.
Though Madrid had informal discussions with Sergio Aguero about a return to the Spanish capital from Manchester City, and with Gareth Bale over a switch from Tottenham, both moves were called off. The Premiership's champions refused to consider Aguero's departure though the Argentine and his family have yet to settle into a UK home. Madrid's discussions with Bale were partly motivated by complicating Barcelona's approach for the Wales international, who last week agreed a one-year contract extension with his current club.
Mourinho would like to acquire a backup for Angel Di Maria, a player who specializes in breaking down tightly packed defenses with his dribbling ability. Ideally, room will be made on the roster by the sale of Kaka, who has held discussions with Sao Paulo about a return to Brazilian league football after three injury-plagued years at Madrid.
While Madrid examined the possibility of recruiting Eden Hazard for the position before his €40m transfer to Chelsea, they concluded that the young Belgian would not adapt well to being a squad player rather than an automatic starter. And interest in Lucas Moura was calmed by the €50m fee Sao Paulo are demanding for the 19-year-old Brazil international.
Mourinho's transformation of Madrid continues. His mission is to return the club to the summit of European football.