Real Madrid, the institution that has had two separate eras of ‘Galacticos’, are indelibly linked to big-money signings.
No club has broken the world transfer record more often than the Spanish giants but this current iteration of Madrid has been more savvy than flashy in recent windows. Carlo Ancelotti’s two first-choice centre-backs at the start of the season, Antonio Rudiger and David Alaba, both arrived on free transfers.
As players across the globe enter the final six months of their contracts, Madrid – and any other thrifty suitors – are legally allowed to negotiate a potential free transfer this summer.
Here are some of the fee-less figures that Madrid could target in 2024.
- Kylian Mbappe
Real Madrid have been chasing after Kylian Mbappe since he was a teenager. The club’s first attempts to woo the young Frenchman included inviting him to the Spanish capital where Zinedine Zidane would drive him to Madrid’s training ground in a sports car.
Mbappe was so close to joining Madrid in the summer of 2022 that EA Sports prepped a version of the cover for FIFA 23 with the Paris Saint-Germain forward decked in all white.
The highly sought-after 25-year-old formally told PSG that he would not extend his contract beyond June 2024 last summer but admitted in January that nothing has been decided. Fearful of being turned down once again, Madrid have reportedly set Mbappe a deadline for mid-January. Although, the saga will no doubt run on longer.
- Olivier Giroud
If Madrid can finally, mercifully, end their interminable flirtation with Mbappe, they could dip back into the free agent market to source his perfect foil.
When comparing his role in the French national team to his duties at PSG, Mbappe claimed that he had “more freedom” alongside AC Milan’s Olivier Giroud. “The coach knows that we have a number 9 here like Olivier, who occupies the defences, I can move freely, give and take passes, work in the spaces.”
Giroud, who earned similar praise from Eden Hazard during his time at Chelsea, will be 38 next season but Carlo Ancelotti is not afraid of leaning upon a wizened head. Joselu – who will turn 34 in March – has filled the role of Madrid’s focal point fairly well this season but is only on loan from Espanyol and lacks Giroud’s deftness of touch.
Comfortable as an option off the bench or a starter, Giroud may be worth a short-term deal even if Mbappe doesn’t arrive.
- Juan Miranda
Real Madrid’s remarkable squad building has been underscored by the club’s spate of injuries. Ancelotti has lost three first-team players to season-ending ACL tears this season yet Madrid continue to lead an assault for multiple titles.
However, if there is one area of the team that may need to be addressed, it’s at full-back. Fran Garcia has stuttered upon his return to Madrid and Ferland Mendy may have received high praise from Ancelotti, but his actions – namely, shoehorning Eduardo Camavinga into the defence ahead of his compatriot – speak louder than some kind words.
A move for Real Betis’ 23-year-old Juan Miranda could offer a more convincing alternative at left-back.
- Mario Hermoso
Atletico Madrid are naturally reluctant to do business with their fiercest rivals. Theo Hernandez is the only player to move from Atletico to Real since 2000. However, if Mario Hermoso runs down his contract, Diego Simeone’s side won’t have a say in where he goes.
The front-foot Spanish defender can operate as a centre-half or a left-back, offering the versatility that Ancelotti values. Hermoso may be halfway through his fifth season at Atletico but there would be few qualms about joining Real after spending 12 years rising through the club’s academy.
What we know
- Carlo Ancelotti’s side are battling for titles in Spain and Europe this season
- Madrid have snapped up Antonio Rudiger and David Alaba on free transfers in the past
- Long-term target Kylian Mbappe is available on a free next summer.