As Real Madrid continue to contemplate who they want to finally balance out their team, they have not just set another summer saga, but also set themselves one of those choices that will have all manner of ripples – and maybe unbalance so much else for so many clubs beneath them.
It will be a classic domino transfer.
That choice ultimately comes down to Paul Pogba or Christian Eriksen, but now has the added twist that a third option is a big Tottenham Hotspur target, as well as a player Manchester United themselves have been considering: Lyon’s Tanguy Ndombele.
And part of the reason for that choice is that Madrid have already spent so much on higher priorities.
If cash did not come into it – and if Zinedine Zidane actually wanted him as much as he and the club together wanted Eden Hazard – the choice would be Pogba. Madrid would pay the £150m-plus fee that United want and that would be that.
It is now far from that simple.
Having spent so much, Madrid want to go cheaper. It has already been made known to Pogba that he may have to lower certain demands – and maybe even push for a transfer – if he really wants to come to the Bernabeu. They meanwhile know themselves they can push a button to meet Daniel Levy’s price, which is understood to be around £100m. There is then the possibility they go much lower, and straight to about £70m for Ndombele.
This is what they are weighing up, as well as the different qualities.
Ndombele offers spark, but also much greater scope for improvement. There are meanwhile fair questions about whether Pogba has any more improving to do at 26, something that is a slight concern given his inconsistency. He probably has more natural talent than both, but certainly doesn’t have Eriksen’s consistency or composure. The Dane would be the more unimaginative choice, in almost all senses, but also the choice with the more proven track record in what Madrid require.
This is why many around the club – and some around White Hart Lane – feel they will eventually go for Eriksen.
That would likely leave the path cleared for Spurs for Ndombele, but also mean they have the money to go for Real Betis’ Giovani Lo Celso. It would also mean that Pogba – since he really is “desperate” to leave United – would have to look to Paris Saint-Germain or Juventus potentially causing more ripples in the market.
If Madrid ultimately go for the French star, though, it would mean United fairly drastically reshaping their plans. They could even challenge Spurs for Ndombele, although Youri Tielemans of Monaco is currently the No 1 alternative. That would in turn leave Eriksen in limbo, since he has been so unusually vocal about a move himself.
Even the move that causes the least upheaval, Madrid going for Ndombele, could cause a few shockwaves thereafter as both Pogba and Eriksen will be forced to look elsewhere if they really are insistent on this “new challenge”.
Either way, the centre of the Madrid team is likely to be the source of a fair few tremors this summer.
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