With Cristiano Ronaldo's improbable exit from Real Madrid to join Serie A giants Juventus looking ever more likely, Los Blancos are working behind the scenes to replace CR7 with some world-class talent.
According to Sportitalia (via Football Italia), Real President Florentino Perez has three targets in mind, with Chelsea's Eden Hazard top of the list. The European champions will also try to add one of Inter forward Mauro Icardi or Bayern Munich hitman Robert Lewandowski to their ranks, so they strengthen in two positions in the case of Ronaldo's sale.
Hazard has continually been linked with a move to the Bernabeu in recent months, and his performances in Russia seem to have confirmed him as Real Madrid's first choice target.
However, the fact that the Belgian will be captaining his country in a World Cup semi-final against France on Tuesday, as well as the ongoing managerial uncertainty at Stamford Bridge, means that Perez will have to delay any move for the winger until after the World Cup - perhaps even later.
Icardi and Lewandowski, meanwhile, will be looked at as the new focal point in attack.
Lewandowski has already stated his preference to join the Merengues this summer, even going so far as to meet with with Bayern president Uli Hoeneß and request to leave. Lewandowski is an interesting prospect for Real, obviously due to his goal-scoring pedigree (he scored 41 goals in 48 matches last season) as well as his age (30), which would make him a cheaper option than the other two men on the list.
Icardi, 25, was a surprise omission from Argentina's World Cup squad - considering he scored 29 goals in 34 Serie A matches last season. The striker has a release clause in his contract worth €110m which is only valid for clubs outside of Italy.
Neymar’s mood is not going to be improved when Real Madrid sign Hazard instead of him to replace Ronaldo and he’s stuck arguing over penalties with Cavani at PSG.— Tom Williams (@tomwfootball) July 6, 2018
But that clause expires on July 15, so Perez would have to move quickly in order to secure his services - at a hefty cost, no less.
Still, with the funds that Real should inherit from Ronaldo's departure, the club must make moves to replace an iconic figure at the Bernabeu to ensure they can continue to win silverware for years to come, and appease a nervous fanbase.