Report: Real Madrid Want a New Defender, Considering Leo Santos, Mario Hermoso

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistOctober 13, 2018

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 22:  Sergio Ramos (right) of Real Madrid is tackled by Mario Hermoso of RCD Espanyol during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and RCD Espanyol at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 22, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images,)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Real Madrid are on the hunt for a new centre-back and will consider moves for Corinthians starlet Leo Santos and Espanyol regular Mario Hermoso.

Juan Ignacio Garcia-Ochoa of Marca reported Los Blancos are in the market to find the next Sergio Ramos or Raphael Varane but have struggled to strengthen their ranks in central defence. 

Santos and Hermoso are burgeoning talents, but the reigning UEFA Champions League holders would prefer to buy an established international.

Any new signing would expect to be behind Ramos and Varane in the pecking order, making it difficult to recruit a first-team player that will know they would spend long periods on the bench.

However, with Ramos now 32, Real must add fresh legs to their wider selection in the Spanish capital.

SANTIAGO, CHILE - AUGUST 08: Leo Santos of Corinthians controls the ball during  sixteen first leg match between Colo Colo and Corinthians as part of Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores 2018 at Estadio Monumental on August 8, 2018 in Santiago, Chile. (Photo by Mar
Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images

Santos has developed in Corinthians' youth system in Sao Paulo and has featured for Brazil's under-20 side.

However, he is not a regular starter for in the Brazilian top flight and would represent a long-term project for the Spanish side to develop.

Per Garcia-Ochoa, Hermoso might be a preferred target for Madrid president FlorentinoPerez, as Real hold an existing option on their former defender. The Santiago BernabeuStadium giants can sign the player for only €7.5 million if they wish to add him to coach Julen Lopetegui's squad.

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 22:  Mario Hermoso of RCD Espanyol controls the ball during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and RCD Espanyol at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 22, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images,)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

The 23-year-old started 22 games in La Liga last term but lacks the technical acumen of Ramos or Varane. However, he is worth much more than just €7.5 million.

Garcia-Ochoa added Real "liked" Atletico Madrid pair Lucas Hernandez and Jose Gimenez, but both players have declared their allegiances to the derby rivals.

Speaking to Radio Monte Carlo (h/t AS), Hernandez said he opted to stay loyal to Atleti but could move in the future:

"My agent told me about it. When he said there was an opportunity to go to Real Madrid, I told him I couldn't do that. Atletico are my club, a team who have given me everything. I'm an honest person and I couldn't go to Madrid. I hope I can stay here for a very long time, but football moves very fast. If an offer comes in that I can't refuse."

VITORIA GASTEIZ, SPAIN - OCTOBER 6: coach Julen Lopetegui of Real Madrid during the La Liga Santander  match between Deportivo Alaves v Real Madrid at the Estadio de Mendizorroza on October 6, 2018 in Vitoria Gasteiz Spain (Photo by David S. Bustamante/So
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Madrid have entered a transitional period, and the depth of the squad has slowly decreased over the past three years.

Lopetegui isn't working with the same calibre of players previous Real coaches have, and he will find it almost impossible to compete with Barcelona over the next 12 months.

However, Madrid still possess plenty of talent and experience, and it will only take one transfer window of investment from Perez to boost the club's options.

The exit of Cristiano Ronaldo has left a huge hole at the Santiago Bernabeu, but defensive numbers must quickly swell to offer Ramos and Varane the back-up they need.