Real Madrid are reportedly keen on signing Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero despite having to serve a transfer ban.
That’s according to John Cross of the Daily Mirror, who has stated the European champions are still considering targets for the end of the season. Aguero, formerly of Atletico Madrid, and Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are said to be on a shortlist of targets.
As things stand, Real will not be able to register new players next summer, although according to Cross, they’re still looking at potential new acquisitions as FIFA’s decision to slap Los Blancos with a transfer embargo is appealed.
“Aguero has three-and-a-half years left on his contract and insists he is happy at City, who do not want to sell him,” continued Cross.
If Real were able to ensnare Aguero, they’d be acquiring one of the very best strikers in world football. As noted by Greg Johnson of Squawka, the Argentina international seems to be making improvements under new City manager Pep Guardiola, too:
Aguero so important for City tonight. Get why Pep dropped him away at Barcelona but having such a mobile striker to punish overplaying key.
— Greg Johnson (@gregianjohnson) November 1, 2016
Not only can Aguero dribble, unsettle defenders and bustle opponents off the ball, he knows where the back of the net is. Already this term he’s netted 10 goals in all competitions for City, benefiting from the brilliant creative skills of players like Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling.
Aguero is one of the most lethal forwards in the game.
Given his status as one of the world’s very best attackers, interest from Real would be no great surprise. After all, the capital club have forged a reputation for acquiring the game’s most incisive forward players down the years, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale arriving for massive money.
However, it could be argued that Madrid don’t need to make a bombastic acquisition of Aguero. Per Bleacher Report UK, they’re well stocked—maybe even too stocked—in the attacking positions:
Did too many cooks spoil the broth for Real Madrid? pic.twitter.com/BUSg1kBAu6
— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) November 2, 2016
Additionally, they’d still require a change of stance from FIFA in respect of their transfer sanctions. So while Los Blancos may be able to lust after Aguero from afar, there are significant obstacles—being permitted to pursue him and convincing City to sell—that make this transfer unlikely.
According to Marca (h/t TalkSport), veteran defender Pepe is close to signing an extended contract at the club.
The 33-year-old’s current deal expires at the end of the season, meaning he could potentially sign a pre-contract from January with another club and leave for free at the end of the season. Per TalkSport, Chelsea had been linked with a possible move for the Portugal international.
But Pepe is reportedly poised to sign on for two more years at the Santiago Bernabeu. Here is why he is such a popular figure among Madridistas:
While some of his antics don’t endear Pepe to neutrals, his qualities as a defender are undeniable. Alongside Sergio Ramos, he’s forged a longstanding partnership at the Bernabeu that’s been key to so many recent successes for Real, including two UEFA Champions League wins in the last three seasons.
These numbers from OptaJose illustrate the positive impact the centre-back has on the team:
0 – Pepe hasn’t lost any of his 18 league games as a starter in 2016 (15W 3D). Injured pic.twitter.com/c7nYshR2c2
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) October 31, 2016
Plenty tied to Madrid have expected Raphael Varane to eventually take over from Pepe at the back and partner Ramos in the years to come. But a combination of the veteran’s own tremendous form and inconsistencies in the Frenchman’s game means the 33-year-old is still the man Real boss Zinedine Zidane looks to in key contests.
Indeed, few defenders in world football have a winning mentality, aggression and determination to match Pepe. While there may be some concerns about the long-term options at centre-back for Madrid, having him around for another two seasons would be of major benefit to the club.