Real Madrid’s transfer policy has altered in recent years, from signing players at the peak of their powers to a more youth-oriented focus. Two of their top current targets – Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland – sit in the middle of those two approaches, yet while the former is the more established and appealing choice, the latter is arguably a better fit for their long-term needs.
Mbappe has been linked with a move to Real Madrid since he was at Monaco and, after missing out on him once, Florentino Perez has made him his prime target to lead a new era at Los Blancos.
The Real Madrid president, unlike in the past, has been content in playing the slow game with the World Cup winner, refusing to bow to his sky high wage demands when leaving the Principality, followed by a diplomatic approach with his PSG counterpart since his move to the French capital.
Mbappe’s PSG deal expires in 2022, and with the player reportedly refusing to sign a new contract, that slow game appears to be paying off. But while Mbappe is undoubtedly one of the most fearsome attackers in the world, and will be for many years to come, one has to wonder whether Madrid’s priorities should lie elsewhere.
Erling Haaland, on his part, has burst onto the scene in the last 18 months, with his goal scoring exploits in the Champions League taking him from RB Salzburg to Borussia Dortmund, where he has fit in seamlessly, and it is this reliability in the penalty area that should appeal to Los Blancos more than the Frenchman.
Madrid are blessed with two of the most electrifying young wingers in the game, in Vinicus Jr and Rodrygo Goes, and they are still awaiting their record signing Eden Hazard to get going. Mbappe would certainly improve any side, but the wide left position in which he normally operates is well covered.
Yet in the striking department, there is no such luxury. Karim Benzema has stepped up as the side’s talisman since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, but anyone brought in to alleviate some of that responsibility has failed. Luka Jovic hasn’t been able to get going since his big money arrival from Eintracht Frankfurt in 2019, while Mariano Diaz can’t seem to convince Zinedine Zidane of being anything more than a bit part player.
Benzema turned 33 in December, and while he continues to defy logic with his heroics week after week, Madrid need to start planning for life after the Frenchman, which is soon.
There are few No.9s in Europe both with Haaland’s ability and potential, and Real Madrid would be securing a player that could fill the role for the next decade much like Benzema has, arriving at Los Blancos from Lyon at the age of just 21, which is how old the Norwegian will be this summer.
Borussia Dortmund, despite claiming the contrary, are a club with an ‘open for business’ approach, and Haaland’s agent, Mino Raiola, isn’t one to hold his clients back from big money moves.
A summer push for Mbappe as he enters the last year of his PSG contract appears inevitable, but he would still require a fee greater than that of Haaland.
The flanks at Real Madrid are well covered, yet the central striker role needs a suitable long-term occupant.