Mbappe, Davies, Modric and more: Real Madrid’s business in March and April


Real Madrid are entering a decisive phase of the season — not just in terms of what happens on the pitch.

March and April is the time when talks on potential renewals and signings are accelerated and key choices are made on the club’s future. Madrid tend to wait until this point in the season, when the Champions League round of 16 is over, as they believe it provides a solid base on which to start making moves.

As always, Real Madrid’s decisions will be led by the three people with the most power at the club: president Florentino Perez, general manager Jose Angel Sanchez and chief scout Juni Calafat.

Although Calafat also keeps an eye on what is going on around the dressing room, his main responsibility is monitoring potential signings, drawing up reports and forging closer links with transfer targets and their representatives.

This sequence is key, they always say at the club, to prepare the ground for negotiations — which is where Sanchez comes in. He usually leads talks over transfers or contract renewals — but Perez is kept updated and has the final say. Manager Carlo Ancelotti is usually also consulted, although he has less influence.

Here, The Athletic lays out the major topics they will be discussing this month.


Transfer targets

Let’s start with Alphonso Davies. As The Athletic revealed, Real Madrid reached a verbal agreement with him in February on two scenarios: to join either this summer or in 2025.

Bayern Munich will seek a sale if they fail to renew the Canadian’s contract, which runs out in 2025, as they do not want a repeat of the David Alaba case. The Austrian arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu after leaving Bayern as a free agent in 2021.

The most recent meeting between Bayern and Davies’ representatives was on March 12 in Munich.

“We sent Alphonso a very concrete, appreciative offer,” Bayern’s sporting director Max Eberl told Bild this week. “At some point in life, you have to say yes or no.”

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Real Madrid reached a verbal agreement with Davies over a move in 2024 or 2025 (M. Donato/FC Bayern via Getty Images)

No agreement was reached at that meeting and if there is none before the end of the season, both sides are expected to work together to arrange a sale.

This could have an influence on the future of Ferland Mendy, whose Madrid contract expires in 2025. Ancelotti is delighted with him, but in the past, the club has been open to a departure.

Alternatively, the position of backup left-back Fran Garcia, who has not convinced in his first season since returning to the Bernabeu, might be affected. And the situation will also likely impact Madrid’s decision on Girona full-back Miguel Gutierrez, who is being closely watched. Los Blancos have a preferential clause which means they could re-sign the 22-year-old, a graduate of their academy, for €8million (£6.9m; $8.6m) from July 1, despite his release clause being set at €35m.

Meanwhile, there has also been a lot of talk inside (and increasingly outside) the club about 18-year-old Lille centre-back Leny Yoro — and Calafat has been doing his usual work with the player’s camp.

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Yoro, pictured for Lille playing against PSG in February (Franco Arland/Getty Images)

In favour of a possible Madrid move for him is the fact his contract expires in 2025, which could make Lille consider a sale this summer. Also, another of his main suitors is Paris Saint-Germain, and Lille do not have a good relationship with Luis Campos, their sporting director.

On the other hand, Yoro’s agent is Jorge Mendes, with whom Madrid does not have the best possible relationship. It is not an insurmountable barrier, but it could become a factor.

And Madrid may still decide they have enough depth in the position. Eder Militao and Alaba will return from anterior cruciate ligament injuries, Antonio Rudiger has been performing at a spectacular level, Nacho could still renew his contract until 2025, and Ancelotti views Aurelien Tchouameni as a good option (despite him preferring to play in midfield). Academy graduate Rafa Marin could feature next season after returning from his loan at Deportivo Alaves, too.

But of course, the biggest name on Madrid lips is (once again) Kylian Mbappe.

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With Real Madrid’s knowledge, Mbappe informed PSG on February 13 that he would leave the club at the end of this season when his contract expires. On the same day, Madrid played at RB Leipzig in the Champions League last 16. Members of the board present at that match took it for granted that Mbappe would be in next year’s squad and that view was shared with important voices in the dressing room.

Since then, however, various sources consulted by The Athletic differ on whether or not Mbappe has already signed a contract with Real Madrid. One of the reasons may be that Fayza Lamari, Mbappe’s mother and agent, has asked for maximum discretion.

“We have to wait until May to be able to talk about this,” one source involved in negotiations with Mbappe recently said.

Nothing has changed in the way Mbappe’s future is viewed by Madrid sources. The expectation is still that his move to the Spanish capital will be confirmed, but there is a further complicating factor, one that is out of Madrid’s hands but will be closely followed: Mbappe and PSG are yet to arrange the full economic details of his departure.

When news of Mbappe’s decision to leave emerged in February, the French club said they would not speak on the issue until an agreement was reached. But PSG sources explained they expected Mbappe to respect an understanding to compensate them for his exit.

They said this means that the player will have to make more financial concessions than those agreed in the summer when he gave up around €80million in loyalty bonuses. They also said the club expects to receive part of the signing bonus that Mbappe will get from his new team, which everyone at PSG believes will be Real Madrid.

Contract renewals

The contracts of four senior Madrid players expire at the end of June.

Lucas Vazquez is on the right track for a renewal. The 32-year-old’s performances at right-back have once again convinced Ancelotti and the board, although no talks have been held yet.

Also in defence is the case of Nacho. The club captain, who has been at Madrid since joining as a youth player in 2001, has said publicly that he knows he can renew if he wants to, suggesting an offer from the club is on the table, but so far no such move has taken place.

When Nacho was in a similar position last season, he hesitated until late in the campaign before finally deciding to stay for another year, having been concerned about a reduction in playing time. This term he has spoken of feeling calmer about his future, but his performances on the pitch have dropped. Against Osasuna on March 16, midfielder Tchouameni was picked ahead of him in the centre-back role.

Toni Kroos is in a better position. As The Athletic has already reported, Madrid’s board informed him months ago that he can renew whenever he wants.

The 34-year-old this month joined up with the Germany team having decided to come out of international retirement in time for this summer’s home European Championship.

At all levels of the club they hope to extend his deal — but he has not yet decided on whether he wants to continue.

“It is the decision that I have to make in one or two months — then we will see,” the midfielder told TVE over the weekend.

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Kroos has played 106 times for Germany, most recently in 2021 (Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images)

The case of Luka Modric, 38, is different. The Croatian has seen his playing time significantly reduced this season, which has annoyed him because when he renewed last year, he was told his status would not change.

There is no precedent at Madrid of a renewal of someone at his age, but Modric’s recent performances have shown his magic is not spent and the Santiago Bernabeu loves him.

Considering that, there is still a conversation to happen between the board and the legendary player, who has played 521 matches for Real Madrid. Ancelotti offered him a place on his coaching staff if he decides to retire, although the club knows he wants to keep playing.

If he does not renew with Real Madrid, another European team or one in Major League Soccer are options that appeal to him more than Saudi Arabia.

Loans/options to buy

Very different outcomes are expected with the squad’s two loan players: Kepa Arrizabalaga and Joselu.

Arrizabalaga arrived on loan from Chelsea without an option to buy following Thibaut Courtois’ ACL injury in August. The goalkeeper was about to join Bayern Munich on a similar deal, but the call from Madrid changed his plans.

The 29-year-old started the season as Madrid’s No 1, but after missing some matches through injury (and making some mistakes), Andriy Lunin is now fully established in the role instead.

All parties have taken it for granted for some time that Arrizabalaga will not continue at Madrid next season.

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Joselu and Arrizabalaga celebrate winning January’s Supercopa de Espana (Antonio Villalba/Real Madrid via Getty Images)

On Thursday, The Athletic reported that Madrid and Mendes, Lunin’s agent, have begun talks for the Ukrainian’s renewal (his current deal runs until 2025).

As for Joselu, due to Espanyol’s relegation from La Liga last season, he arrived on very favourable terms — a fee of around €500,000, with Madrid paying all his salary — in a deal that included a purchase option of about €1.5million.

Ancelotti is delighted with the striker because he offers a unique profile in the team and his adaptation and performance have also convinced everyone. From April onwards the case will start to be dealt with, with the expectation being that he will stay.

In terms of Madrid players out on loan, 21-year-old centre-back Marin was sent out to Alaves for this term, with the plan for him to then at least spend pre-season with Ancelotti’s group if he had performed well — which he has. A decision will be taken on whether he eventually stays for 2024-25, but several other interested clubs are watching closely.

And there is another player worth mentioning who, like Girona’s Gutierrez, would also be available to Madrid on favourable terms: Real Sociedad’s 22-year-old winger Takefusa Kubo.

When the Japan international left for the Basque Country in 2022, Madrid included a right of first refusal in the deal. In February, Kubo renewed his contract until 2029, with the previous one finishing in 2027, but sources briefed on the situation have told The Athletic that his release clause of €60million is still the same and Los Blancos still have a first refusal.

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What about sales?

Further to the situations of Mendy and Garcia, the cases of Dani Ceballos and Arda Guler are worth following. Neither player is getting as many minutes as they would like, although in Guler’s case, it is especially due to the three injuries he has had since he was signed last summer. He still wants to feature more regularly than he has been since returning to fitness, so a loan move cannot be ruled out, although no decision will be made in the near future.

If Ceballos were to leave, the 27-year-old midfielder would more likely do so on a permanent transfer. He has played just over 500 minutes so far this season — while Guler has played 98.

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(Top photo: Getty Images)





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