Real Madrid Transfers: 5 Players in Line to Be the Next Galactico
Long heralded as the "Galacticos", the likes of David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo are names that will long live in the memory of Real Madrid CF. And even despite the club's astronomical spending patterns in the last few years, the days of signing star players for huge fees are now a distant memory for Real Madrid.
At least, under Jose Mourinho they are.
And if they were to bring in Rafael Benitez to replace Mourinho (should he depart), you can guarantee the Spanish coach will seek to bring in distinctively average players to the Santiago Bernabeu.
Despite Mourinho's future being far from certain, it's clear that there will be a summer shake-up at the home of the current La Liga champions, with Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria among the stars linked with an exit.
And with so many outgoings, it seems Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has his eye on snapping up some of the brightest talents in the game in order to relive the "Galactico" era.
There will be no shortage of funds in the mixing pot for whoever is coaching the side, and here we found five players who could be set for a move to the world's most successful club.
Arguably the most wanted man in world football right now, the Brazilian forward who has been dubbed "the new Pele" has a lot of hype to live up to.
But as shown in Brazil's shocking 2-1 defeat to England earlier this month, the 21-year-old is far from a finished article.
Known for his amazing dribbling ability, Neymar is more an individual than a team player . Comparing him to the top two in the world is a bit premature, but he's more in the style of Cristiano Ronaldo rather than Lionel Messi.
He tends to enjoy skipping past players with his agile, lean frame, almost like a gazelle. Ask any defender in Brazil about Neymar and they will begrudgingly tell you that he is a terrific player.
His next move, however, still remains a mystery, although Spanish paper Marca claim that Neymar has a pre-contract agreement with Barcelona; the Catalan club is supposedly coughing up a whopping £10 million just to have the first option on the highly rated forward.
But their financial muscle. as well as boasting a large Brazilian/Portuguese contingent at the club means Real Madrid could pull off a coup by convincing Neymar to join and become the next "Galactico".
Leading the next generation of pint-sized Spanish midfield geniuses is Francisco Roman Alarcon Suarez, or "Isco" as he is known in most parts of Spain.
Very similar to England star Jack Wilshere in terms of playing style, Isco's potential is slightly higher than the 21-year-old Arsenal playmaker.
The rise of Malaga has been down to three main factors: Sheikh Al-Thani, Manuel Pellegrini and Isco. The former Valencia midfielder made a risky move going back to his hometown club in Marbella, but obviously made the correct decision.
He cost €6 million in June 2011 after failing to make the breakthrough at the Estadio Mestalla but immediately found his feet at the Champions League hopefuls.
Two stunning goals in a convincing 3-0 win over Zenit St Petersburg in the Champions League group stage brought attention to his performances, but it was Malaga's shocking 3-2 victory over Real Madrid which highlighted his obvious ability.
His work ethic and vision in the midfield make him a valuable asset, and his burst of pace, albeit not so great over a long distance, allows him to create space in the playmaker role.
Recently signing a new deal to raise his release clause, Isco, who made his Spain debut against Uruguay this month, is seemingly happy at Malaga. But he has indicated that if the club needed the money from a potential sale, he would move without hesitation.
£25 million is the fee mooted. In my view, that's £25 million well spent.
David De Gea (Manchester United)
When Sir Alex Ferguson invested £18 million in a signing a goalkeeper, it was a massive signal of intent from the legendary Scot.
For many years now, Manchester United have, for whatever reason, struggled with the goalkeeping position. Edwin van der Sar was one of very few to break the hoodoo that comes with being a goalkeeper at Old Trafford, with the likes of Tomasz Kuszscak and Anders Lindegaard struggling to make an impression at the club.
But Ferguson genuinely believes that David De Gea is the one to break that hoodoo. A product of the Atletico Madrid youth academy, De Gea has shown many points of promise during his time with the Red Devils.
This includes his heroic performance in the 1-1 draw against Real Madrid, making a string of fine saves to deny Jose Mourinho's side victory at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Even despite his occasional gaffe, De Gea is going to be a top goalkeeper, there's no questioning that.
And with Iker Casillas' future at Real Madrid far from certain, De Gea could be tempted with a return to Madrid if the pressure gets the better of him at Old Trafford. However, it would take a fee much greater than the £18 million they paid to take him back home.
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Real Madrid will always be wondering what could have been when it comes to Sergio Aguero.
56 Premier League games has seen Aguero muster an impressive return of 32 goals, including the famous last-gasp strike to snatch the Premier League title from under the noses of Manchester United.
It's clear that Aguero is head and shoulders above the other Manchester City strikers in terms of popularity, and not just because of his goals; Carlos Tevez has had the odd run in with the club while Edin Dzeko has always hinted at an exit.
Only the Real Madrid hierarchy know, however, how close Aguero was to joining Los Merengues. Terms with the 24-year-old were reportedly agreed, but Atletico president Enrique Cerezo denied him the opportunity to join the city rivals.
With that side of negotiations no longer an issue, it seems Aguero could be tempted back to Madrid. But the Citizens are backed by ultra-rich owner Sheikh Mansour and clearly don't need the money.
They would be against keeping an unhappy player, although it could take a fee in the region of £50 million, the current British transfer record, to prize Aguero away from the Etihad Stadium.
Edinson Cavani (Napoli)
It could be time for Edinson Cavani to leave Napoli after they crashed out of the Europa League in humiliating fashion.
The Uruguayan star joined from fellow Italian side Palermo for €17 million in June 2010 after a superb World Cup showing in South Africa, where his country finished brilliantly in third place.
His record for Napoli has unsurprisingly seen their stock rise incredibly, including a famous 3-1 victory over Chelsea last year, a game which oversaw the sacking of their manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Cavani scored once and set up one as Napoli romped to victory.
He's not even reached 100 games yet for Walter Mazzari's side, and he's already scored 67 goals as they chase their first Serie A title since 1990.
But they lost 5-0 on aggregate to Czech Republic side Viktoria Plzen, who are, with all due respect, no Barcelona. And that is simply not good enough for a side of Napoli's stature.
Ezequiel Lavezzi left last summer in a £24 million deal to sign for Paris Saint-Germain, and "Pocho" has impressed greatly since his move.
Perhaps it's time for one of Europe's most lethal strikers to get the move he deserves. How much will he cost, I hear you ask? Ask Aurelio De Laurentis. You can't be bothered? Fine, his price tag is £54 million.