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Transfer rumours
Wednesday 27. December 2023 - 09:23

Four emergency centre-back options Real Madrid are looking at for January

Real Madrid have undoubtedly been one of the unluckiest teams in European football as it stands.

They had to deal with two major injuries before their season even started as Thibaut Courtois tore his ACL and new signing Arda Guler picked up an ankle problem.

This was followed by an ACL injury to Eder Militao, who will, alongside Courtois miss most of the season, and will only make an appearance late on, if lucky.

Meanwhile, Vinicius Jr, Eduardo Camavinga, and Aurelien Tchouameni all have picked up a semi-serious injury at some point this season that has ruled them out for a few weeks, at the minimum.

In fact, Vini and Camavinga are still sidelined. The former is expected to make his return for the Spanish Super Cup in Riyadh, while the latter could be back in time after the holidays when Madrid take on Mallorca in the league.

However, if these problems were not enough, David Alaba was the latest to join the injury list. He, too, tore his ACL against Villarreal, and will miss the rest of the season, and possibly the 2024 Euros.

With two out of four centre-backs out with an injury, Madrid have a crisis in defence. While Carlo Ancelotti has stated that Tchouameni can cover in central defence, they will also be on the lookout to sign a centre-back in the winter.

AS confirm that there are four players on their agenda: Robert Renan, Goncalo Inacio, Raphael Varane, and Rafa Marin.

Robert Renan | Zenit St. Petersburg
A young player with a high ceiling, Renan signed for Zenit on a free transfer in January 2023. At 20, he is understandably not a start for the Russian outfit, but his profile is considered to be very complete.

However, in light of the Russian genocide in Ukraine, the European Union and the USA ruled that no transactions exceeding a value of €100 million should be conducted with Vladimir Putin-linked institutions.

And Zenit is a team owned by Gazprom, which is controlled by the Russian state. That said, around 30 clubs have already conducted similar business without consequences so far. Will Real Madrid take the risk, though?

Goncalo Inacio | Sporting

Almost inarguably the player with the most support of the four, Inacio plies his trade at Sporting right now, and has been one of the best centre-backs in the Portuguese league this season.

The 22-year-old has a €60 million release clause in his contract, which means should Madrid choose to trigger it, a transfer would depend on Inacio’s will. In any other event, though, it seems unlikely that Sporting let him go as they look to win the league.

Raphael Varane | Manchester United
Varane is not a stranger for Real Madrid. He spent a decade at the Santiago Bernabeu before leaving the club for a different challenge in 2021 when Manchester United came calling with their €40 million offer.

Reports have claimed that he is open to leaving United due to a lack of minutes, and Ancelotti has welcomed his return as well. However, the club prefer younger players.

Moreover, while he is not first-choice for Erik ten Hag, United are reluctant to let him go due to an injury crisis in their own defensive line.

Rafa Marin | Deportivo Alaves
Another name Real Madrid are pretty familiar with, Rafa Marin is one of their own centre-backs, currently on loan with Deportivo Alaves for the rest of the season. They have been considering bringing him back in January.

However, there is no loan termination clause in his contract, and Alaves would not be in favour of letting him go prematurely, either. They are currently sitting 16th in the league, and could face a relegation battle as the season goes on.

Provided by: Frank Henriksen
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