Real Madrid face a tall order in topping last season's triumphant Champions League triumph, but Carlo Ancelotti is nonetheless under pressure to deliver once again this term.
And one of the ways in which he can encourage just that comes through his use of the transfer market, with rumours and gossip still roaming around the Bernabeu as we enter the final phases of the summer window.
After signing James Rodriguez from Monaco, speculation sees Los Merengues talked of mainly in regards to who's leaving the club, the most recent developments at Real discussed ahead.
Angel Di Maria
Carlo Ancelotti confirmed that the Argentine winger would be leaving the Bernabeu, quoted in the report as saying:
"Di Maria has not trained with us and he came in to say goodbye to the players and people at the club. We are thankful for what he has done at this club. There is nothing official yet but it is being sorted out.”
Evidently, Louis Van Gaal rates Di Maria highly, and it would seem that one of this summer's longest sagas will come to a close with the United manager getting his man.
However, Norwegian pundit Jan Aage Fjortoft believes the Dutch boss still has other concerns in need of addressing:
If Di Maria signs for Man Utd it's great news for them. But still need a class central defender— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) August 24, 2014
Real Madrid will be sad to see Di Maria leave, undoubtedly, after he had such a huge impact on their fortunes last season, but with such a heavy offer on the table, it would appear Ancelotti remains confident in the assets he still possesses.
Having failed to establish his presence in the Real Madrid midfield, Asier Illarramendi has been tipped for a Bernabeu exit after Napoli showed interest in his services.
Italian newspaper Il Mattino (h/t Football Italia) claims that Los Merengues have offered their out-of-sorts anchor to the Serie A giants, who are in the market to add more steel in that area.
Despite any disappointments of his failure to meet expectations thus far in Madrid, OptaJose points out that the 24-year-old has had his impressive moments in pre-season:
100% - Asier Illarramendi completed all his 61 of his passes against Fiorentina, 33 in the opposite half. Confidence.— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 16, 2014
'Do we want to exchange our wife' is like 'do we want Mascherano.' We’re in love with our wife, I mean, our players. Do we want to exchange our wife for Claudia Schiffer? It could be but it depends on your wife, are you happy with your wife? Lets wait for a response from the transfer market.
The gist of that response would indicate the Spaniard is satisfied with his current assets, but a loan deal for Illarramendi could be savvy dealing for the Italians.
However, any Illarramendi departure depends on Sami Khedira's future, too, and it appears Ancelotti will retain his playmaker's services for the last year of his Real Madrid contract.
Khedira could leave the Bernabeu for free next summer unless the Champions League title holders cash in now, but Ancelotti is quoted by The Guardian's Dan Lucas in saying that his star is going nowhere:
“The issue with Khedira has also been resolved. He’s staying and we’re happy that’s the case.”
Khedira's situation seemed to have taken on many a twist and turn in recent months, but it would seem Real are now content in their decision to keep him around, even if it means losing him for nothing in a year's time.