Real Madrid have been linked once more with a massive-money move for Napoli striker Edinson Cavani, and the possible transfer would have undoubted consequences for Real themselves and the wider transfer market.
With the Uruguayan having seen his name alongside that of Real several times over the past few months, ESPN have given perhaps the clearest indication yet that the move could happen:
Luis Cavani [Edinson's father] said there had been contact between the Spanish club and Napoli but it might take an offer of €60m to seal the deal. "Napoli has rejected offers from many teams," Cavani told the Madrid station. "But I think that they'd sell him for an offer of €60m. There is a 50% possibility he will sign for Real Madrid, but the negotiation with Napoli is difficult."
With Real Madrid in second place this season in La Liga, way off first spot and not looking amongst the biggest favourites for Champions League success either, the addition of the powerful front man would be a clear indication that they aim to bounce back next term.
Here are five repercussions that the move could have for the club.
Even before Jose Mourinho's arrival, Real Madrid have played more or less a 4-2-3-1 system, with one sole recognised striker on the pitch the vast majority of the time.
Given the attacking instincts and positions taken up in the final third by some of the other players on the team, there is simply no need—nor is there room—in the side for a regular second striker. The arrival of Edinson Cavani, then, would necessitate the sale of one of the present forwards to make room in the squad for him.
Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema are the two seniors in the Madrid squad at present, and neither would have any shortage of takers if they were put up for sale.
Higuain has scored 11 league goals this season; Benzema, eight.
While his strengths are many-fold, one of Edinson Cavani's biggest assets is, indeed, his strength.
A powerful striker, he is hugely influential aerially, scoring almost as many with his head in Serie A this season as he has with either foot.
Real don't play with out and out wingers, preferring instead their wide attackers to cut infield. Therefore, crosses aren't currently a huge requirement in their play.
Cavani will naturally attract a few more direct balls from out wide, which will likely come from the advanced full-backs or the wide attackers cutting back on their stronger foot.
Should he sign, it will be interesting to see if Madrid persist with their usual approach of quick attacks through the centre and along the deck to the faster attacking midfielders. Higuain and Benzema are also usually required to work the channels and pull out wide at times, creating space in the centre. Cavani naturally sticks much more centrally, though he has had playing time in wider areas too.
Real Madrid's main attacking threat is still Cristiano Ronaldo, attacking from the left side of the front line and frequently popping up centrally.
So far this season he has netted 27 goals in 27 league appearances, a phenomenal rate of consistency. With a more powerful—and supposedly superior—goal-getter on the team alongside him, would Ronaldo remain the main man for goals?
On the one hand, you have Ronaldo supported by a player who is adept at holding the ball up, can occupy two defenders at once and who will relish playing alongside new top players—a real step up even from a side currently second in Serie A.
On the other hand, Cavani has been the main point of attack for his club and is used to playing all the time, having started every match he has been available for this season. Will he link well with arguably the biggest name at the Santiago Bernabeu?
If the two gel, Real have a great chance of getting back their league crown. If they don't, it creates a new problem: How do they get more out of Ronaldo while getting value from the new striker?
With the departure of Cavani, especially at the astronomical price being quoted, Napoli would almost certainly be able to reject bids for any of their other star names.
A €60 million fee would allow Napoli to reinvest in Cavani's replacements, offer new contracts to current players they wish to keep and strengthen in other areas of the pitch as they build for a real title challenge in 2013-14. They will also hope to be competing in the Champions League next season.
Christian Maggio, Gokhan Inler, Goran Pandev, talented youngster Lorenzo Insigne and superstar Marek Hamsik can all be retained by the Italian side. At the very least, Napoli will be in position to demand top dollar in return if any club is particularly insistent about signing any one of them.
Real Madrid's biggest domestic rivals, Barcelona, have already been linked with a number of names for this summer's transfer window.
Perhaps the signing of Cavani by Real would spur them into action in one particular area—an aerially dominant central defender, who would specifically be able to counter the threat of Cavani in those massive Clasico matches.
Obviously he wouldn't only be brought in for those games, but with Carles Puyol playing less frequently over the past season or two due to age and injury, it's important to note that neither Gerard Pique nor Javier Mascherano are reliably competent against strong offensive aerial threats.
Mats Hummels is the man who many feel is being targeted by Barcelona this summer (via Marca.com), and he would definitely pose a massive obstacle to Cavani—and every other La Liga striker.
Player data and statistics from WhoScored.com and transfermarkt.co.uk