Zinedine Zidane is pressing ahead in his bid to sign No.1 target Paul Pogba now Real Madrid are confident they have Eden Hazard all but in the bag.
Bernabeu boss Zidane sees Manchester United midfielder Pogba as the player he wants to build his new-look team around and has let it be known to his inner circle that he is now ready to go all-out to land him.
He also wants to sign Chelsea star Hazard this summer, and that should be an easier deal to wrap up given the player’s desire to join the Spanish giants and contract situation.
An offer around the £100million mark should convince the Blues to do business, given Hazard will have just a year left on his Stamford Bridge deal from July.
While Zidane wants Pogba and Hazard, his return to the Bernabeu less than a year after quitting has cast a major doubt over Gareth Bale’s future, given that he is not a fan of the Welshman.
Bale, however, is ready to make Madrid bigwigs sweat by refusing to budge unless another club matches his astronomical wages.
Estimates that he earns around £500,000 a week in the Spanish capital are understood to be conservative and unless anyone makes him an offer to match or better that deal the former Tottenham star is happy to sit on a contract that runs until 2022.
Bale is open to offers though, and having won the La Liga title and four Champions Leagues since joining Madrid in 2013, his next move will be motivated more by finances than football.
That news will open the door to offers from China, the United Arab Emirates and MLS as well as the biggest clubs in Europe. Any outfit wishing to do a deal, though, will have to break not only their own wage structure but make him the highest-paid player in their league as well.
What is certain is that Zidane now sees Bale, who turns 30 this summer, as Madrid’s past and that Pogba and Hazard are their future.
Newspaper Marca , the club’s mouthpiece, have reported that a deal for Hazard could even be announced this week. That is unlikely, however, given Chelsea are still chasing a top-four finish and have made the semis of the Europa League in a two-pronged bid to regain Champions League status.
Pogba, meanwhile, spoke glowingly of Madrid and fellow Frenchman Zidane during the last international break.
Sources close to him played down his comments at the time, saying he was a put on the spot by the question and was just speaking generally about a man and club he admires, but he will be made well aware in the days and weeks to come that Zidane is desperate to recruit him this summer.