It has been one of the transfer sagas of the summer, but the closer the deadline looms the less likely it appears that Paul Pogba will become a Real Madrid player. Zinedine Zidane has spoken warmly about the Frenchman, the player himself has made clear his desire to join, but Manchester United have refused to budge.
Indeed, the Old Trafford outfit’s valuation of Pogba – around £150 million according to reports – has priced Real Madrid out of a move in a summer window in which they have already splurged £300 million on new players. This has led them to reportedly look at other midfield options.
Donny Van de Beek is one of those options. He was one of the breakthrough stars of Ajax’s run to the semi finals of the Champions League last season, turning in a particularly impressive performance against Real Madrid in the round of 16. Maybe it was then that Zidane first thought about the prospect of the Dutchman in his team.
With Pogba out of reach, at least for this summer, Real Madrid are treating Van de Beek as their secondary target. However, the 22-year-old would arguably fit their new transfer strategy better than Pogba. If the Spanish giants are building for the future then Van de Beek represents this better than the Frenchman.
Of course, the signing of Eden Hazard from Chelsea is something of an outlier here. The Belgian is 28 and in his peak years. Looking past Hazard, though, Real Madrid have prioritised the targeting of young players who have yet to reach their peak. Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy, Luka Jovic, Rodrygo… the strategy has been clear.
Van de Beek would fit into this.. At 22 years old, he is already considered one of the best central midfielders in the game. Real Madrid could build around him for years to come, especially with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric seemingly fading as forces at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Pogba is a different sort of player to Van de Beek. Jose Mourinho wanted him to be an anchoring midfielder when Pogba has always found his best form further up the pitch. Would Zidane liberate him in this way or make the same mistakes Mourinho did during his time at Manchester United?
It feels like Real Madrid have one last big signing in them this summer. Some will see their failure to land Pogba as an embarrassment, such is their status as the ‘Galacticos,’ but Van de Beek might actually turn out to be a better option, but in the short and the long term.
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