Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne was reportedly recommended to Real Madrid president Florentino Perez by current manager Zinedine Zidane last summer, although the Frenchman’s predecessor, Rafael Benitez, opted to sign Mateo Kovacic instead.
That’s according to OKDiario (h/t Sport), which stated that Zidane championed the former Wolfsburg star as the club went in search of a new creator. Benitez reportedly resisted, while City stumped up the money to secure De Bruyne, who has enjoyed a sensational debut season with the club.
The Belgium international will face Real in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final on Tuesday at the Etihad Stadium. FourFourTwo’s Seb Stafford-Bloor noted just how important he’s become to the team’s attack:
De Bruyne's work rate, link-up play and ability to drive with the ball ensure he is a threat both in terms of goals and assists. Despite being injured for a spell in the season, he’s netted 15 times in all competitions, as well as providing nine assists in the Premier League.
Kovacic hasn't been a flop at the Santiago Bernabeu by any means and still has a lot of time to develop his game. Nevertheless, you wonder whether De Bruyne would have been a better fit for Zidane’s Real than the likes of Isco or James Rodriguez, who don’t possess the industry of the former Chelsea star.
As reported by HLN’s Kristof Terreur, Zidane has conceded in the build-up to the game that he’s a big fan of the midfielder:
De Bruyne looks primed to finish this term strongly with City and kick on again in 2016-17.
Updates on Harry Kane and David De Gea
Real Madrid reportedly have no plans to launch a bid for Tottenham Hotspur star Harry Kane, although they could step up their interest in David De Gea should Manchester United fail to finish in the top four.
“That's not the plan for Real Madrid in terms of forwards,” said Sky Sports’ Spanish football expert Guillem Balague. When asked about De Gea, he said “Keylor Navas has been one of the heroes for Real but earlier this season, the plan was to go back for De Gea—especially if Manchester United don't finish in the top four.”
Kane has dispelled any notion that he’s a flash in the pan this term with some stunning performances for Spurs. His efforts at the point of the attack set the tone for this side, who seem poised to come up just short in the race for the Premier League title.
Squawka Football’s Nic English summed up just how impressive Kane has been in what are still the relatively early days in his career:
De Gea has been around for longer and is an established world-class talent. The stopper continues to pull off miraculous moments at the base of the United side and given he came so close to joining Real last summer, it’d be a massive surprise if there was no interest from Los Blancos in him again.
James Ducker of Daily Telegraph hailed the quality of the Spaniard after he saved Romelu Lukaku’s penalty in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday:
Of the two, Kane would arguably be the more necessary capture, albeit the more unlikely. After all, while there is a lot of quality going forward in this Madrid team, they rarely look the same player without Karim Benzema in the side. Another No. 9 would be a big boost.
De Gea would surely love to make the switch to the Santiago Bernabeu, even though it’s clear he’s enjoying his time at Old Trafford.