Real Madrid announced that Julen Lopetegui will be their coach after the 2018 FIFA World Cup. However, Lopetegui won’t need to wait that long now that the Spanish Football Federation sacked him just two days ahead of Spain’s debut against Portugal. While it’s clear that Lopetegui won’t like this, Real Madrid will now have the chance to prepare themselves for what will be a busy summer. Here are three players who Real Madrid might target now that Lopetegui is their coach.
- Alvaro Odriozola. Real Sociedad. Right-back. The young defender was on Madrid’s radar already and the signing of Lopetegui seems to make things even clearer for him. Lopetegui loves the way Odriozola plays and even included him in the team’s list for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia ahead of Barcelona starting right-back Sergi Roberto. Real Madrid seem destined to pay the €40 million release clause on Odriozola’s contract now that Lopetegui is their coach. Carvajal will have a back-up once again.
- Thiago Alcantara. FC Bayern. Midfielder. Lopetegui did not hesitate and gave Thiago control of Spain’s midfield after Xavi Hernandez’s departure. He was ready to be an undisputed starter for Spain during the World Cup and it seems that Bayern would be willing to part ways with the midfielder. Thiago wouldn’t have a role as an undisputed starter given that Casemiro, Kroos and Modric appear to be irreplaceable even for a new coach. Considering that Isco will also surely be a starter under Lopetegui, Thiago would have to compete hard for a starting spot or else wait until Modric enters his decline. He’s not an obvious fit for this current squad, but Lopetegui loves Thiago and Bayern might be willing to sell, so keep an eye on this situation.
- David De Gea. Manchester United. Goalkeeper. Keylor Navas had the support of coach Zinedine Zidane all along. Zidane even prevented the club from signing the the promising Kepa because of the trust he had in Navas. The situation might be very different now that Lopetegui is Madrid’s coach, though. Navas won three straight Champions League titles but the club seemed to want to sign another goalkeeper this summer. Now that Lopetegui is in charge, they might as well go after De Gea, who was a key starter for Lopetegui in Spain and has been on Madrid’s radar for quite some time now. Keep in mind that De Gea’s agent Jorge Mendes reportedly told Madrid that it’s “now or never” if they want De Gea.