Operation centre-back is underway at Real Madrid.
Or rather, it’s still running.
Last summer, Los Blancos already tried unsuccessfully to strengthen itself in central defence, a position that is very well covered at the moment with Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, but which lacks depth.
Only Nacho complements and pressures those two, who’ve been playing as regulars almost unopposed for three seasons.
In reality, it’s been since Pepe stopped being a threat to Varane and ended up going to Besiktas.
Since the departure of the Portuguese, Madrid have tried and failed to replace him, and now, in an increasingly inflated market, the opportunities being presented are very few.
In fact, Real still can’t find them.
Last year, Los Blancos identified three centre backs who met the requirements to play at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, but their clubs made their transfers an almost impossible mission.
Lucas and Jose Gimenez (Atletico) were those most liked, in addition to Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona).
The three declared themselves loyal to their teams and Madrid continued searching without success.
Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain) is also a player – because of his age and his contract conditions – that remains an attractive proposition, but negotiating with the French club isn’t an option.
The conversations with the owners of PSG are reserved, if necessary, to address the signing of Neymar.
An ideal scenario would be to find the new Sergio Ramos (signed for 27 million euros in 2005) or the new Varane (10m euros in 2011), but the signings of recent years invite Real to look at a different type of player.
It was thought that Jesus Vallejo fulfilled the criteria, but he’s not meeting expectations.
Injuries and his shyness are not letting him take a step forward and in Madrid they believe that the best thing for his career is a loan or transfer with option to buy back.
So, as things stand, Madrid have nine months ahead to get the player they want.
There are names of young players on their agenda, such as the Brazilian Leo Santos (Corinthians) or Mario Hermoso (Espanyol), on which Madrid have a preferential option and that would cost only 7.5m euros, but their priority would be a defender with international experience.