It's currently all about strikers for Carlo Ancelotti and Real Madrid in the transfer market. The Los Blancos chief is determined to reinforce a position where Karim Benzema is the only natural choice.
To that end, Ancelotti is reportedly working on an expensive, short-term deal to bring Radamel Falcao back to the Spanish capital. If that fails, the Italian coach will attempt to sign unwanted Chelsea prodigy Romelu Lukaku.
Here's a more in-depth look at Madrid's pursuit of top striking talent, beginning with Falcao:
Ancelotti Keen on Loan Deal for Ex-Atletico Madrid Star Falcao
Real officials are currently attempting to complete a complex move to loan Falcao from French side AS Monaco. Spanish publication AS (h/t Mirror reporter Ben Burrows) has stated Madrid must first meet the expensive fee Monaco have set for Falcao's loan:
Reports in Spain suggest Los Blancos are prepared to pay a colossal €12.5million (£9.9m) fee for the privilege.
The Colombian striker has been reportedly unsettled in the principality for a while and would likely jump at the chance to move to the European champions.
A permanent move could be in offing too with AS suggesting a fee in the region of €33m fee is being negotiated.
That's certainly a significant outlay for any loan arrangement. The latter amount is also a hefty proposed sum for a potential permanent deal.
That's especially true when considering Falcao is 28 and suffered serious ACL damage last season. However, when healthy, his guile and class in front of goal is well known and feared.
Few strikers have Falcao's knack for coming alive whenever he receives the ball in and around the box. He is at one an arch poacher, as well as a crafty hitman who can manufacture his goals via skill and smarts.
Madrid aren't exactly lacking for firepower. Aside from Benzema, Ancelotti's squad also boasts prolific and pacy wide forwards Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
Los Blancos have also signed mercurial attacking midfielder James Rodriguez. He is a former teammate of Falcao's at Moncao and a compatriot of the Colombia star at international level.
Falcao certainly exceeds Benzema as a natural finisher. He also has a history of flourishing in Spain's La Liga, having been a dominant force for Real's city rivals Atletico for two seasons from 2011-13.
Real's interest in the player has been long-standing. He still has the striking chops to thrive at the top level of the European game and would combine well with new galactico Rodriguez.
So Falcao going to Real Madrid apparently.... There is a surprise for you...— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) July 26, 2014
If there's a chance to get Falcao, even on a temporary basis, Ancelotti must take it.
Lukaku a More Than Credible Backup Plan
If Ancelotti can't get Falcao, or is simply put off by the terms demanded by Monaco, he has a more than credible backup plan. That plan involves signing young Belgian sensation Romelu Lukaku, according to The Times' Tony Barrett, who cited Spanish reports:
The Spanish press are reporting that Romelu Lukaku is Real Madrid's backup if they're unable to do a deal for Falcao.— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) July 26, 2014
However, while Lukaku represents an excellent signing, this particular fall-back option won't come cheap. Spanish newspaper AS (h/t Daily Mail reporter David Kent) has reported that Lukaku could cost as much as £30 million.
That's a steep price to pay even to get a striker as young and naturally dynamic as Lukaku. At just 21, the Belgium international has established himself as an attacker of merit at the highest levels of European football.
Lukaku offers height, lightning pace and a genuine physical presence. He also possesses good technique and rarely wastes a chance.
Lukaku is a striker who always looks threatening and constantly puts defenders through their paces. In fact, the mystery remains as to why Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is not keen, as noted by former Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino on talkSPORT.
However, Lukaku has plenty of other admirers. Among them are Premier League side Everton, where he spent last season on loan.
Toffees boss Roberto Martinez remains very confident he can bring Lukaku back to Merseyside, per Liverpool Echo reporter Chris Beesley. Yet despite the bravado from Martinez, it's the Bundesliga that could offer the strongest competition to Los Blancos.
Reports originally from Le Foot writer Philip Harmeling (cited by 101 Great Goals's James McGlade), last night suggested Lukaku was close to a €25 million switch to newly minted German club VfL Wolfsburg:
Good news for VfL Wolfsburg! Romelu Lukaku is really near to joins VfL for a 25mio€ transfer. More info to come.— Philip Harmeling (@PhilipHarmeling) July 26, 2014
However, no matter how strong the level of interest from England and Germany is, it's not unreasonable to assume Lukaku would want to wait and hear any proposal from the 10-time European Cup winners.
Madrid has struggled to find a young, natural centre-forward the club can groom for great things in the future. Prospects such as Alvaro Morata and Joselu have both been sent packing in recent seasons.
Lukaku certainly has the attributes to be the rising star in attack Los Blancos have coveted.
Should Real Madrid Pay Big Money for Romelu Lukaku?
Finding another top-level striker is vitally important for Ancelotti ahead of the new season. Yes, his current squad is star-studded.
However, Ancelotti's Real won't snatch the La Liga title away from neighbours Atletico if they again find themselves relying on Benzema alone up front.
Falcao and Lukaku represent fine options to add to a key position. Both would expect to play and are certainly talented enough to start instead of Benzema, or alongside him.