Real Madrid Transfers: 12 Stars Lined Up to Be a Galatico This Summer
Barcelona have moved within five points of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga, but all is well at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Los Merengues have a game in hand over their Catalan rivals and will move back to a cozy eight points above Barca if and when they beat struggling Villarreal.
At Madrid, though, winning is never enough. Sergio Ramos could have the opportunity to drop both the Champions League and League trophies from the top of this year's parade bus, but several new faces can be counted on to arrive in the capital, with more necessarily leaving.
Because of the club's insatiable appetite for, let's say, "bettering themselves," Madridistas are never short on gossip or speculation.
Here are 12 players who could be making their way to the Iberian Peninsula this summer.
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Mario Gotze may very well choose to leave the hostile confines of the Westfalenstadion this summer, and one of the most likely destinations for him to end up is the Bernabeu.
Not only could he rejoin teammate Nuri Sahin, national teammates Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira will be waiting to form a midfield quartet to put Madrid on a level at least approaching that of their legendary Catalan counterparts.
Gotze is another player whose style would fit Spain well, and there are not many good fits for him in other countries.
Arsenal would be almost an ideal fit, for example, but there is little hope in North London of Arsene Wenger shelling out the type of cash necessary to acquire the German talent.
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Frustrated by a lack of first-team opportunities due to an overcrowded front line at Manchester City, striker Edin Dzeko might seek a move away from the Etihad Stadium this summer.
Reportedly, Madid are willing to offer the Bosnian an outlet. In a swap deal, the equally underused Gonzalo Higuain could be heading in the other direction to give both teams a different look up front.
Higuain would fit well with City's flowing style of play, and Dzeko would be a great stationary striker who would net scores of goals off of incisive through balls from Kaka and Mesut Ozil.
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It seems as if Higuain is being singled out as one of those most likely to depart the Bernabeu this summer—and with good reason. Once a favorite of Jose Mourinho, he has been overshadowed somewhat by the superb Karim Benzema this season.
While it would be nice to finally conclude the Carlos Tevez transfer saga, Madrid fans will likely want to avoid the resulting circus of having the Argentine on your team.
Robin van Persie
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Unfortunately for Arsenal fans like me, the link between Robin van Persie and Real Madrid has been inextricable this season, and the rumors are likely to continue until the Dutchman's contract situation gets resolved.
Van Persie has not alleviated anxiety around the Emirates Stadium by officially stating that he is putting all discussions of a new contract off until the summer, making Champions League qualification imperative for Arsenal.
If he does not have enough confidence in the ability of the current team to win silverware, he will probably leave anyway. But it will be very hard to resist joining a talent-rich side like Madrid for the last of his prime years if he cannot play at Europe's top level again next season.
While many think of Neymar when one brings up the subject of Brazilian wunderkinds, the name Lucas Moura enters few minds.
The 19-year-old striker has already won 11 caps for Brazil while playing at a domestic club, which is as clear an indication of his talent as any other factor.
Among the litany of clubs that Moura has been linked with is Real Madrid, who have apparently been scouting him for some time.
It could be a new era of Brazilian starlets at the Bernabeu if the rumors linking Neymar to the club come to fruition.
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The Frenchman is the type of player who would fit in quite well in this Madrid squad. He is a defensive midfielder who has great technical skill and can push forward with versatility in the Patrick Vieira mold.
A young player of his talent would certainly not come cheap, but that is of no importance to Real. If the only other club they are competing with for M'Vila's signature is Arsenal, they will have no trouble outbidding Arsene Wenger if they truly want the player.
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Hulking Porto winger Hulk is certainly no stranger to big-club rumors; his agent once stated that he could be had for a mere 100 million euros.
But now, speculation linking him to Real Madrid specifically has increased significantly, and it appears that Los Blancos will have to compete with Barcelona for the player's signature if they are willing to pay his fee.
Hulk himself stated:
Barcelona or Real Madrid, I think I would say yes to playing for these teams.
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Spain U-21 champion Javi Martinez has seen himself linked with a move to Madrid recently, and he claims that he is not worth his reported €40 million price tag.
The defensive midfielder currently plies his trade for Athletic Bilbao but would bring stability and grit to the heart of Real's midfield.
With Martinez holding down the area above the back line, it would allow the team's more creative players to flourish without worrying so much about their defensive duties, thereby giving the attack an unexpected boost.
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The Slovakian international is also a reported Liverpool target, but the Spanish capital offers a better chance for success, and most importantly, consistent Champions League football.
Hamsik has been an integral part of a Napoli side that is jam-packed with top-level talent, and his reported £21 million price tag reflects this.
Lord knows Madrid are already overflowing with prodigious midfield talent of all ages, but Los Blancos are certainly not averse to stocking an already stacked position with the best talent in the world.
If centre-backs and a stable defence is what you're after, look no further.
Brazil-born Twente defender Douglas has stated that he is ready to move to a different league and that he has "a dream to play for Real Madrid someday."
Douglas has been a rock at the back for Twente for the best part of the last five years and is one of the most consistent and reliable defenders in the attack-happy Eredivisie.
If he really is ready for a bigger club, there's no better team to play for than one you support, as there will certainly by no lack of motivation on the player's part.
Plus, Sergio Ramos should be playing in his natural right-back slot, instead of holding down a position in which he is worse than the one which made him world-class.
Nicolas Gaitan's name has skyrocketed in popularity among speculators recently, as he has flourished under the bright lights of the Champions League, and the Benfica winger has been linked with both Manchester clubs.
But another connection to Real Madrid has been established, and Pepe regards the player so highly that he claims that he would sign Gaitan immediately if he were club president.
Gaitan is a tricky 24-year-old winger who has greatly impressed this season for Benfica. He can emulate the sort of success that Angel di Maria had after making the switch to Madrid if he is indeed purchased.
A player of his age and ability will not come on the cheap, but that is obviously never the club's first priority.
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Thankfully, there have not been any new chapters in the Neymar transfer saga for a while, but many still believe that the Brazilian superstar will be playing for either Real Madrid or Barcelona next season.
Yes, Santos extended his contract until the conclusion of the 2014 World Cup, but few believe that this is anything more than a desperate, symbolic gesture.
The fact is that Neymar's talents are too great for Brazil, and he deserves to be playing under the bright lights of either the Bernabeu of the Camp Nou. And, for months, there have been numerous stories indicating that the player will choose the capital over Catalonia.
Presumably, money and fame would trump the fact that Neymar would have to cut his hair at Madrid. I expect this move to happen at some point in the future, and the sooner the better for the Brazilian National Team and world football fans.