Real Madrid aren’t just targeting one mind-blowing transfer swoop this off-season, with the Spanish giants reportedly eyeing a massive double play for both England midfielder Jude Bellingham and France superstar Kylian Mbappe.
Meanwhile, West Ham appear finally ready to let their biggest name leave – but for a hefty price.
Here’s all the latest transfer news in our Rumour Mill!
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MADRID EYE NEW GALACTICO ERA
Real Madrid has won five Champions League crowns in nine years, and their 1-1 draw with Manchester City in the semi-final first leg means they are closing in on a stunning sixth European title.
But with Croatian superstar Luka Modric 37 years old, Karim Benzema 35, and Toni Kroos 33, it’s no wonder that Madrid is looking to add world-class players to their squad to continue an unprecedented run of success.
Their long pursuit of Jude Bellingham is apparently inching closer to success. The 19-year-old midfielder is one of the most in-demand talents in world football, but Madrid appear set to beat out a host of European giants for his signature.
Manchester City remain hopeful he will choose England over Spain, but Liverpool already withdrew from the race for his signature last month.
According to German outlet Bild, Madrid will pay Borussia Dortmund around £130m for his services – and the player himself will pocket a huge pay rise.
Bild claims Madrid will pay Bellingham £17.4m-a-year ($A32.4m per year; £334,000-a-week), far beyond Dortmund’s offer of a new deal at £230,000-a-week ($A430k per week).
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But Bellingham isn’t the only big name on their wishlist.
Real Madrid will also reportedly target French superstar and 2018 World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe, amid ongoing instability at PSG.
The French giants are headed for a rebuild as their own galacticos strategy in recent years has failed to deliver a single Champions League triumph.
Lionel Messi will leave at season’s end, with Neymar also likely to depart. PSG is reportedly hoping to rebuild the squad around a core of young French players, making Mbappe the talisman and centrepiece of the new-look Parisian side.
But Madrid previously came close to signing Mbappe last year, when they offered a reported £170 million transfer fee and also held negotiations with the player.
Despite massive financial losses during Covid-19, PSG still rejected the move – sparking fury in Madrid and among Spain’s La Liga hierarchy.
Mbappe subsequently signed a new deal with PSG until 2025, although the last year of that deal is reportedly optional.
Now Madrid are ready to revive their interest if the instability in Paris – and their dismal season – begins to push Mbappe towards an exit.
Any deal would likely eclipse the world record fee of €222m PSG paid Barcelona for Neymar in 2017, with PSG set to profit on the €180m they paid Monaco to secure Mbappe’s services in 2018.
The French 24-year-old said two months ago he was focused on the club and on-field success.
He said: “For me it’s a privilege to play here. I’m from Paris and being at PSG is special.
“I arrived when I was young and I’ve grown and matured a lot, on and off the pitch, since then.”
Asked if the team’s Champions League failures would push him out the door, he said:
“I don’t think so. If I linked my future to the Champions League, and I don’t want to disrespect the club, I would have gone very far!
“I am here and I am very happy, and for the moment I’m not thinking about anything other than making PSG happy.”
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HAMMERS SET PRICE FOR RICE
West Ham will let their own superstar England midfielder Declan Rice depart to a Champions League club – but only if they get an offer worth £120m.
That’s according to Sky Sports, who report the Hammers would take £100m plus a player in return.
Manchester United submitted a £100m bid last off-season, while Arsenal are reportedly leading the race for his signature this time around. Chelsea and Liverpool are both also interested in the 24-year-old, according to numerous reports.
Rice is currently on a reported contract worth around £70,000 a week – an absolute pittance compared to his value.
He turned down an offer from the Hammers for around £200,000-a-week before the start of last season, but is likely to exceed even that should he move to a Champions League club.
Rice’s current contract expires at the end of next season with a club option to extend it one year further – but the Hammers have reportedly promised to let Rice get his Champions League dream if the money is right.
They are aiming for a figure surpassing the British football transfer record of £106 million Chelsea paid for Enzo Fernandez in January.
However, back in March Premier League great Gary Neville said Rice was worth only around half that £120m price tag.
“I love Declan Rice,” Neville told Sky Sports. “Obviously, Declan knows the position, but when I look at world-class holding midfielders, and players of that type, because he doesn’t score or assist enough goals, you’re putting him into that category of more of a destroyer.
“[Then], you’ve then got to be someone who I think is highly competent on the ball and linking play, and having that knowledge of the subtleties of getting on the ball from the back four.
“I personally feel, at this moment in time, that Declan needs to go and work under a different set-up, he needs to drive forward in his career, he needs to go and play at a different club.
“I think there’s a lot of growth, and a lot for Declan to do to get up to the levels of Casemiro, Rodri and players at the top of the game in those positions.
“But, for me, I wouldn’t be spending £110m or £120m on Rice if I was Manchester United this summer. I would spend £50m-£60m on Declan Rice, but I wouldn’t spend the figures being reported.”