Real Madrid's bid to sign Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian centre-back Marquinhos this summer will reportedly face competition from Premier League side Chelsea.
Los Blancos know of Chelsea's interest in the 21-year-old, but they will still press ahead to try to seal a deal in the summer, according to Spanish source Marca (h/t Vaishali Bhardwaj of the London Evening Standard).
Madrid are currently operating under the looming threat of a FIFA-imposed transfer ban. The ban has been suspended pending an appeal, per a Press Association report (h/t the Guardian), giving the club time to set possible targets.
It makes sense for Madrid to identify a quality centre-back to improve manager Zinedine Zidane's squad. Los Merengues' defensive solidity, obvious earlier this season under Zidane's predecessor Rafa Benitez, has since evaporated.
Recent results show Madrid have kept just one clean sheet in the last four league games, per the club's official site. Injuries have been an issue at the back, with key man Sergio Ramos in and out of the team at various times this season.
Marquinhos is certainly a player any top club can build a solid defence around. He's quick, intelligent and combative, while also possessing exceptional technique to play out from the back the way all leading teams want their central defenders to.
Yet Marquinhos' rise in the French capital only makes it tougher for interested parties. PSG will be in no rush to sell one of the cornerstones of their current team.
Marquinhos also has the luxury of playing alongside fellow countrymen Thiago Silva and David Luiz. The South American trio have made manager Laurent Blanc's squad particularly stingy this season.
PSG conceded just one goal in the UEFA Champions League group stage, according to the competition's official site. Meanwhile, the Ligue 1 side has been breached just 10 times in France's top flight, per Sky Sports.
In order to pry Marquinhos away from Paris, Madrid president Florentino Perez will need a massive bid, one that might hinder his pursuit of other prime targets. But landing a top-quality centre-back may be the best move Los Blancos can make this summer.
Bid Rejected for Independiente Star
One deal that has already encountered problems is Madrid's proposed pursuit of Independiente's Martin Benitez.
The Argentinian club has already rejected a bid for the 21-year-old attacker from the Spanish capital, Independiente vice-president Noray Nakis told Spanish publication AS (h/t FourFourTwo). He confirmed his club's displeasure at Madrid's initial intentions for Benitez:
[Benitez] is a very important player for us.
We do not accept the offer from Madrid for them to then send him on loan to another club.
Madrid want him to go to another club to get more experience.
Martin is very good and he has potential, so because of that, if he leaves he must go there directly to play.
Goal.com's David Manuca noted how Benitez has risen to prominence under the watchful eye of manager Mauricio Pellegrino.
Securing a promising young forward makes sense for Madrid, especially since there's little depth behind the club's primary options, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.
Jese has struggled to avoid injuries, while Isco is regularly linked with a move away from La Liga. The latest rumours suggest the 23-year-old is a £25 million target for Arsenal, according to Spanish source El Confidencial (h/t Jack De Menezes of the Independent).
What position should be Madrid's transfer priority in the summer?
Meanwhile, mercurial Colombian James Rodriguez has had to prove his fitness since Zidane took over, per Marca's Santiago Siguero. Fernando Baquero of Spanish source Sport has even suggested Rodriguez found the club unimpressed by a request for a wage increase.
Madrid need a few more options up front, and it makes sense to target a player as young and promising as Benitez. But in the context of needing immediate help, plotting a loan move for a possible new signing seems strange.
If Perez gets to make one player his transfer priority next summer, it should be Marquinhos. Convincing PSG to sell won't be easy, but Madrid's need for a centre-back is great enough to justify a major investment.