Juventus’ hopes of extending Leonardo Bonucci’s stay in Turin may be scuppered by interest from Real Madrid, who reportedly see the Bianconeri star as a potential replacement for Sergio Ramos.
That’s according to Tuttosport (h/t AS), which wrote that Los Blancos would be willing to offer €30 million to land the Italy international and double the defender’s current annual salary, which currently stands at €2 million. Bonucci's current contract with Juve runs until 2017.
The piece also claims that new Madrid boss Rafa Benitez has cited Bonucci as a player who could potentially fill the void left by Ramos, should the defensive talisman decide to move to the Premier League this summer.
As noted by WhoScored.com earlier in the season, there’s nothing overly flashy when it comes to the Juventus centre-back:
They’re traits which will have surely endeared Benitez, a renowned pragmatist, to the defender. While Real are synonymous with offensive flair and fluid forward play, their new manager will be desperate to add some steel to a side that were a little ropey at the back last season.
In addition to Bonucci’s uncompromising defensive style, he’s a player that’s technically sound too. The Italian is a composed figure, capable of bringing the ball out from the back and playing short, incisive balls into midfield. It’s these kinds of abilities that have made the Italian such a fine foil for the rugged traits of Giorgio Chiellini at the heart of the Bianconeri back line.
Ultimately, any pursuit would surely depend on Ramos’ decision. Bleacher Report’s Sam Tighe examined whether or not he is likely to leave the Bernabeu:
The Spaniard’s future remains unclear, with speculation hotting up surrounding a potential move, but Madrid will be desperate to preserve his enormous influence for next season and beyond. Indeed, the same could surely be said when it comes to Juve and Bonucci, meaning Real would surely face major resistance in any attempted transfer.
Isco An Important Figure for Benitez
One player that seems unlikely to be sacrificed in Benitez's attempt to shore things up next season is Isco, with reports claiming the new Real chief has given the Spaniard assurances when it comes to his importance to the Los Blancos first team.
That’s according to Alvaro De La Rosa of AS, who outlined the situation regarding the player here:
Juve have expressed an interest in Isco. Allegri sees him as a natural successor for Andrea Pirlo, but the player is interested in staying at Madrid. Isco and Rafa Benitez spoke and this conversation has been key in the midfielders intention not to leave the club.
The coach assured him of playing time and his importance in the 2015-16 team, although he didn’t guarantee that the player would start in every game. In a 4-2-3-1 formation, Isco fits into various positions.
After Real signed James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos last summer, Isco seemed destined for a spell on the fringes of the first team at the Santiago Bernabeu. But when injuries took their toll on the Los Blancos squad during the first part of the campaign, the former Malaga man slotted seamlessly into the side and took his chance with distinction.
It’s important for Real, arguably the biggest club in Spain, to have some Spanish influence at the sharp end of the pitch too. As noted by OptaJose, Isco is one of the only native attackers who plays a crucial role at the Bernabeu:
But what makes Isco so important, something it seems Benitez has also picked up on, is his adaptability. Last season he played as an orthodox No. 10, but he also slotted in alongside Toni Kroos in a deeper role when Luka Modric was injured and took up a position on the flanks when Gareth Bale was on the sidelines.
He also brings something completely different to Real’s attacking forays, as we can see here:
The artistry in Isco’s game is an aesthetic treat and while we naturally associate Los Blancos’ attacking style with the directness of Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, it’s important to have players such as the Spaniard who complement their vertical surges by probing between the lines.
It’s these kind of attributes—versatility, incision and intricacy—that make Isco a key member of this Real squad and you suspect any club looking to prise him away from the Santiago Bernabeu this summer will have to spend big money if they’re to be successful in their endeavours.