The World Cup is the proverbial ideal opportunity for players to ‘put themselves in the shop window’.
And we can guarantee you no club will be paying more interest to the goings on in Russia than Real Madrid.
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Los Blancos may well be three-time reigning European champions but there’s no rest for the wicked if they want to remain at the very top.
And their track record of pouncing for the star player at every World Cup suggests they won’t be shy to do the same this summer.
In 2014, Real moved to snap up both Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez and Keylor Navas after his exploits for surprise quarter-finalists Costa Rica.
Four years earlier it was a case of double German efficiency for the Spanish giants, with both Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira Bernabeu bound after coming of age for Germany in South Africa.
In 2006, Real exploited Juventus’ torrid financial issues to sign World Cup winning Italian captain Fabio Cannavaro.
And, of course, in 2002 they brought the original Ronaldo – R9 – back to Spain from Inter Milan after he fired Brazil to the trophy with a stunning eight goals.
So who will be their prime target this summer to keep up their tradition? We profiled a few realistic options…
The archetypal modern midfielder.
Milinkovic-Savic is an absolute Rolls Royce of a player, commanding physically but with the technical ability of Paul Pogba.
He’s wanted by almost everyone on the planet, with Man United and Real reportedly front runners for the Lazio star’s signature.
Milinkovic-Savic ran the show in Serbia’s opening win over Costa Rica at the weekend and, but for some wasteful Aleksandar Mitrovic finishing, should have had a couple of brilliant assists.
Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are both entering their twilight years so the Serb would be the ideal replacement this summer.
Mexico won the hearts and minds of neutrals all over the world with their dominating win over Germany at the weekend.
And the star of the show was undoubtedly ‘Chucky’ Lozano, whose clinical first-half goal made up for some otherwise wasteful finishing from his team-mates.
Lozano is a well-known entity to the gaming generation, with his tricky style and undoubted potential perfect for both FIFA and Football Manager.
And after 19 goals in 27 games for PSV this season he’s already catching the eye of the more established European clubs.
Lozano has all the attributes but he may need a stepping stone move before progressing to the dizzy heights of a club of Madrid’s stature.
New contract, but so what?
Real Madrid have the financial muscle to prize anyone away from anywhere – even with evil mastermind Daniel Levy at the heart of the negotiations.
England’s main man is hellbent on winning the Golden Boot in Russia and consolidate his place amongst the best few strikers on the planet.
You get the feeling that a move to the Bernabeu is a case of when rather than if, but this summer may come too soon with Spurs’ new stadium beckoning next season.
The hosts needed a hero to emerge from a frankly average Russia squad – and Golovin has really grabbed the bull by the horns so far.
The creative midfielder was already earmarked as the heartbeat of their side and in their opening two games he has fully delivered.
Golovin grabbed two assists and a sumptuous free kick in the demolition of Saudi Arabia and hasn’t looked fazed on the biggest stage of all.
But like Lozano he may need another move first, with Arsenal linked, while Isco’s dominance for Real means his position is effectively covered.
A red herring for you all.
Ronaldo left almost everyone stunned by his bombshell comments after the Champions League final, hinting his immediate future may lie away from Real.
In reality he was probably hankering for an improved contract given the fact Lionel Messi and Neymar both pocket substantially more.
Ronaldo already looks like making Russia his own after that spellbinding hat-trick against Spain last week, with World Cup glory effectively completing his career set.
So for Real to tie him down to an improved deal, considering his seemingly ageless performances, would be the best scenario for all parties.
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