There is a vision at Real Madrid for Zinedine Zidane to become a legacy manager.
Most bosses at the Santiago Bernabeu struggle to stay in charge for three seasons, so barely have the chance to leave a long-lasting imprint on the club.
Yet Zidane is already one of the most successful managers in their history following three consecutive Champions League wins in his first spell, and now he has the chance to set the club up for further greatness.
He returned to the Spanish giants in 2019, and led them to the title in La Liga last season. There has been some talk that he won’t stick around long but while Barcelona are in seeming disarray behind the scenes, there is a growing feeling this could be a good time for Madrid to show stability with Zidane at the helm.
For this reign to go so well though, there needs to be an ambitious strategy for player recruitment. Zidane thrives on the Galactico mentality and wants to be surrounded by the best players in the world—yet in the last transfer window we saw no new signings arrive.
Safe to say, that is not how the club intend to continue.
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PROJECT MBAPPE, AND AN OVERDUE SPENDING SPREE
One thing we have learned about Real Madrid so far this season is that they really needed to invest in the squad over the summer. Like many sides, they opted against transfers because of the impact of Covid-19 on finances. It is not a decision they regret, but it has held them back.
It is understood that big offers for Eduardo Camavinga and Kylian Mbappe would have been lodged under normal circumstances - and those are the two players we should expect them to pursue first in 2021.
As Madrid begin to think about the gold dust they will sprinkle on the squad, Project Mbappe will begin to take shape soon. His transfer has been in mind for so long, the club are confident they have the cash available for when the time comes. He is considered the ultimate Madrid player. A Galactico who could thrill the Santiago Bernabeu for a decade while pushing himself to become the best player in the world, winning plenty of club silverware along the way.
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PSG won’t make things easy. They are attempting to negotiate a new contract with the player but know that the whole situation is extremely complicated in uncertain times. The message from inside the club is that while they will try hard to convince their current stars to stick around, they are going to have to be conservative on the transfer front. Which could pose a problem in their attempts to keep Mbappe. The striker hopes the club will show fresh ambition in the transfer market and this could have a say in how he feels about committing his future.
The Paris club are going to attempt to tie down Neymar Jr, Juan Bernat and Angel Di Maria to new contracts but agreeing terms with all of them, as well as Mbappe, seems unlikely.
Madrid’s fondness for Mbappe is no secret and they will be willing to hand the player a significant rise on his current terms. Mbappe currently earns around £375,000-a-week but the next contract will probably need to be closer to £500,000-a-week, bearing in mind he is still only 21 and will most likely become a Ballon d’Or winner during that next deal. His current salary makes him the fourth best-paid player in the world, once you factor in endorsements. Only Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are ahead of him.
Erling Haaland is also regularly talked about as a transfer option for Madrid but any move there will depend on how the Mbappe situation progresses.
CAMAVINGA: THE NEXT BIG THING
Eduardo Camavinga (C) of France looks on during the UEFA Nations League group stage match between France and Croatia
Image credit: Getty Images
Rennes midfielder Camavinga, 18, is widely regarded as one of the most exciting young talents in world football and his representatives have been aware of Madrid's interest for some time.
In the summer he will be entering the final year of his contract and there is a feeling he should be available for around £40 million. While there will be competition from other clubs, Madrid feel he is perfectly aligned with the model they have been building.
In recent seasons the focus has been on buying promising young players, with the likes of Eder Militao, Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior all earmarked to be mainstays of the team for a long time.
Eden Hazard was signed as a superstar name, obviously, and while his time in Spain has been difficult so far because of injuries there remains plenty of hope and expectation that he will live up to his fee - which could eventually rise to £130 million.
THE POGBA QUESTION
A dejected Paul Pogba of Manchester United sits on floor after cenceding a penalty during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal
Image credit: Getty Images
It's the Galactico tag that sets Madrid apart. These are the signings deemed to be out of this world, and there is one other player that fits that bill who could arrive next summer: Paul Pogba.
Zidane sees him as the complete midfielder and when he returned to Real Madrid in March last year, he made it clear to the board that the Manchester United man would be his ideal signing. There is a chance Pogba looks to move on next summer and Madrid will be in the running if that is the case.
It would be tough to sign Mbappe, Camavinga and Pogba in the same window but perhaps not impossible.
There is uncertainty about a host of names in the current side and whether it is time to start moving people on. Madrid could soon be reinvented. Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Isco, Luka Modric and Luka Jovic are among the names that could leave, which at the very least opens up the wage bill for some big additions.
Time will tell just how bold Madrid can be in their transfer acquisitions for 2021 - and in turn just how long Zidane sticks around to write more history.