Sign Kounde, Alaba in defence – Madrid’s options to replace Sergio Ramos
This week Real Madrid announced that legendary defender Sergio Ramos would be leaving the club after a 16-year spell at Santiago Bernabeu.
The Spaniard joined from Sevilla in 2005 and has gone on to enjoy a career that most players can only dream of, winning the World Cup, the European Championship, multiple La Ligas and the Champions League on four occasions.
Despite his excellence in 2019/20 when Real Madrid won La Liga, there were definite signs of decline in 2020/21 as fitness issues hampered his ability to help Los Blancos defend their crown.
Ramos missed 23 league games this past campaign, and with him reportedly on around €18 million per season, the decision was taken by the club to release him in June.
Real Madrid had attempted to keep him to stay with the offer of a one year contract instead of Ramos' desired too, but that was then taken off the table after the iconic defender took too long to decide on his next move.
The Spanish giants now face the tough task of replacing Ramos and rebuilding their defence for next season, so what are their defensive options?
One major question that Real Madrid need to ask themselves is whether they should still be actively looking to sell Raphael Varane.
Like Ramos, Varane has enjoyed huge success at the club, but is reportedly keen on a change of surroundings and could seek a move back to France, potentially with Paris Saint-Germain.
The Frenchman's contract in the Spanish capital runs out in the summer of 2022, so if the club want to recoup a transfer fee it will need to be via a sale this summer.
Unless Madrid want a completely fresh central defensive pairing moving forward, a dangerous tactic, then they will probably need to tie Varane down to a new contract.
Nacho and Eder Militao are also still at the club but both are probably unlikely to be consistent key players moving forward, even if both did perform admirably in the second half of the season.
Real Madrid have already confirmed the signing of David Alaba on a free transfer from Bayern Munich, and the Austrian will likely take a good chunk of the Ramos wages back out of the budget which ties the hands of the club slightly.
However, even before Ramos' confirmed departure they were in the market for a new central defender in addition to Alaba.
Jules Kounde of Sevilla and Pau Torres of Villarreal are their primary targets at the moment.
The Frenchman very nearly joined Manchester City last summer before they opted to sign Ruben Dias from Benfica instead.
Madrid, according to reports from Spain, declined the opportunity to have first refusal on Kounde during the negotiations for Oscar Rodriguez a year ago.
Torres' reputation continues to grow in Europe, meanwhile, as he was part of the Villarreal side who stunned Manchester United in the Europa League final.
Man Utd are in for the Spaniard too as they view him as an ideal partner for Harry Maguire.
Both players would cost in excess of €50 million.