Rob Bleaney on 20 February 2018
Fed up with watching Barcelona waltz off into the distance in La Liga, the Real Madrid president, Florentino Pérez, has decided to dig out his transfer war chest and take the fight to their bitter rivals off the pitch.
Not content with making eyes at Neymar, Pérez has trained his sights on another Barça old boy in Héctor Bellerín and is said to have ‘personally negotiated’ with the Arsenal right-back, according to reports in Spain. As a product of Barça’s La Masia academy, Bellerín, whose form seems to have waned as his hair has grown, was always assumed to be heading back to Catalonia when he had had enough of Arsenal Fan TV – but Pérez has other ideas and is willing to pay €40m to hit Barça where it hurts. A potential spanner in the works, though, is Lionel Messi, who has allegedly informed the Barca suits that summer signing Nelson Semedo is not of the required standard to play right-back at the Camp Nou. This transfer battle could get dirty.
One man who could be leaving the Bernabéu is Marco Asensio, who is so bored of watching the BBC (we’ve all been there) he has barged into the boardroom and slapped down all the offers he has received from Premier League clubs on Pérez’s very expensive table. ‘Usame o pierdeme’ was the gist of the threat from the Mallorca-born schemer. Liverpool will apparently pay up to £131m for Asensio in the summer as they look to fill a Philippe Coutinho-sized hole in their forward line, while Chelsea and Arsenal are also keen. Asensio’s two-goal showing in Real’s 5-3 win against Real Betis on Sunday had Zinedine Zidane admitting he deserves more game time, so watch this space.
Barcelona and Arsenal like the cut of Willem Geubbels’ jib and could get the talented 16-year-old striker for nothing this summer if Lyon are unable to persuade him to sign a new contract. Arsenal have made the Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly their top summer target. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are also under consideration at the Emirates.
José Mourinho is apparently so eager to prise Toni Kroos from Real Madrid he is willing to offer Paul Pogba in a exchange deal. And PSG do not want to pay Manchester United £30m for Marcos Rojo after all, thereby assuaging Mourinho’s anger, for 24 hours at least.