Real Madrid will reportedly embark upon a £250 million spending splurge this month after being handed a two-window transfer ban, with superstars such as Eden Hazard, Sergio Aguero and David De Gea high up on their wish list.
The Sun's Antony Kastrinakis reported on Friday that Los Blancos are preparing "the biggest spending spree in football history," and £80 million-rated Hazard is alleged to be the club's No. 1 target.
Real and city rivals Atletico Madrid each received two-window transfer suspensions earlier in the week—not counting the current January market—that will prevent them from registering new players until the summer of 2017.
Hazard, Aguero and De Gea are reported to be Los Merengues' biggest targets in England, while Juventus star Paul Pogba and Bayern Munich hitman Robert Lewandowski are also alleged to be on the club's radar.
According to Football Insider's Miguel de Souza, Real are looking to appeal their ban through the Court of Arbitration for Sport in a bid to at least be able to do business at the end of this season.
Zinedine Zidane's side engaged in a summer-long saga with Manchester United, but they ultimately fell short in their pursuit of Spain goalkeeper and former Atleti No. 1 De Gea. However, James Robson of the Manchester Evening News pondered whether Real were "audacious enough" to revive their bid this month:
Would Real be audacious enough to bid for De Gea this month - before the ban kicks in?— James Robson (@JamesRobsonMEN) January 14, 2016
January is infamous for being a tougher time in which to conduct serious business, but the magnetising allure of the Bernabeu, and Real's potentially desperate circumstances, mean major moves may be forced.
Who should be the biggest priority target for Real Madrid?
David Woods of the Daily Star highlighted the fact that Barcelona's 2015 transfer embargo pushed them into conducting big deals before the ban started, spending a reported £131 million in the summer of 2014. That mad dash included the £75 million acquisition of Luis Suarez.
Sales would still be permitted during the suspension, and while Gareth Bale looks likely to stay under Zidane, Kastrinakis added news of Cristiano Ronaldo's £100 million link with Paris Saint-Germain.
Bleacher Report duo Dean Jones and Sam Tighe recently discussed the ramifications of Real's ban and which of the club's previously mentioned targets could miss out as a result:
Los Merengues are still obliged to fall in line with Financial Fair Play guidelines, and spending too heavily could leave the club at risk of being punished by UEFA, as Manchester City and PSG have found in recent years.
However, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes both Real and Atletico won't have to endure a year without transfers, stating on Friday his belief the appeals will be successful, per the Mirror's John Cross:
Wenger ridicules transfer ban for Real. "They will appeal, it will be overturned and they will be allowed to buy in next two windows."— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) January 15, 2016
Tempting cash-rich City to part ways with Aguero—whose contract runs until 2019—will be an uphill struggle, but out-of-form Chelsea winger Hazard may be a more realistic target for the Spaniards.
Real Madrid are facing a battle against time to pull together enough assets for a potential 18-month spell without new signings, and only a fortnight remains for the club to conduct some massive January deals.