Real Madrid are reportedly on the brink of adding Uruguayan sensation Rodrigo Bentancur to their ranks. Plus, Los Blancos could lose James Rodriguez to Manchester United following news that talks have been opened between the two clubs.
Boca Juniors midfielder Bentancur has been tightly linked with Los Merengues in the past three weeks, and Jose Felix Diaz of Spanish daily Marca wrote his €10 million (£7.6 million) move could go through imminently.
According to Diaz, the teenage playmaker wasn't initially jumping for joy at the thought of joining Real's Castilla academy, having already made 19 senior appearances for Argentinian giants Boca.
Boca Juniors president Daniel Angelici was even quoted by Marca as recently as this week, where he stated there was no deal in place for Bentancur to leave the club:
"There's been no offer made for Rodrigo Bentancur and as such he'll play for Boca, at least for this season. He's here at Boca, he's a Boca player, he's going to stay at Boca, he's going to play for Boca. There will be no transfer involving Bentancur, at least not in the current transfer window."
However, he's now thought to be on board with a move to Los Blancos' reserve team in the understanding that he needs playing time in Europe before his Bernabeu ascent can really take off.
Juventus were reported to hold a first option on Bentancur as part of the deal that took Carlos Tevez back to Buenos Aires last year, according to Di Marzio translator David Amoyal. However, even if they don't buy the youngster themselves, it's reported the Bianconeri will receive a percentage of Real's purchase.
As shown by fan account M.A.J., Bentancur recently featured on the front cover of Marca alongside fellow rumoured targets Ricardo Rodriguez, Wolfsburg, and Leroy Sane, Schalke:
MARCA: IN THE CART Rodriguez & Marcelo Bentancur €10m in principle for Castilla Firm offer for Sane + Barca bid pic.twitter.com/4Hd1qUCY9t— M.A.J (@UltraSuristic) January 23, 2016
Real Madrid are yet to make a signing this summer, but the arrival of young prospect Bentancur could help ease the club's winter woes and stem the tide of a potential two-window transfer ban.
John Richardson of the Daily Express claimed the Red Devils are in negotiations to cut a £63 million deal for Rodriguez, and Real would be willing to sell even under the threat of a transfer ban. An extract read:
"Rodriguez fell out with former Bernabeu boss Rafa Benitez but relations with new manager Zinedine Zidane are said to already be strained. Zidane isn’t happy with the player’s attitude in training and wouldn’t be against Rodriguez leaving."
Super agent Jorge Mendes, who represents Rodriguez, is said to already be engaged in talks between the two parties as he looks to thrash out a deal just 18 months after the Colombian moved to the Bernabeu.
Real Madrid travel to Real Betis on Sunday evening, and manager Zinedine Zidane spoke positively of Rodriguez's recent efforts in training prior to the fixture, per Spanish daily AS:
James had a great week. I’m happy with what he’s doing. He’s working incredibly hard, like the other players. He’s ready to play. I’m not paying him more attention than the other players. I don’t get the feeling he’s worried, he’s told me he’s relaxed about things. He wants to do well, like the rest. The plan is to have him firing on all cylinders.
Maria Elvira Bonilla, a columnist for Colombian newspaper El Pais de Cali, recently said the glamorous lifestyle in Madrid has stunted Rodriguez's development (h/t Sport), recounting his "drunken success" at Real.
Manchester United could look to capitalise on any indecision, either from the player or Real Madrid, but it seems Los Blancos supporters are still willing to give Rodriguez a chance, as shown by a recent AS poll:
Morning all! It's James Rodriguez on our front page today: "Fans demand James" with 63% preferring him over Jese. pic.twitter.com/n2bpGdAzOS— AS English (@English_AS) January 22, 2016
Diaz insisted in his report that the club remains adamant their appeal against the embargo will be successful, but a slow January window won't help their plight if the suspension is upheld.
Zidane will be eager to keep hold of any major assets in the event Real are prevented from registering new players before the summer of 2017, but Rodriguez could still be deemed surplus to requirements.