Real Madrid are looking to build a youthful side to own the future, but are still willing to pay Galactico prices in the process

It is quite unusual to see such a calmed, relaxed preseason for a side like Real Madrid, whose president is well-known for his insatiable desire to keep growing bigger every season, generating more revenue, selling more white home kits and conquering any target they focus on. And that includes, obviously, signing the hottest players in the market… even if they don’t actually need them.

While Zinedine Zidane and his men slowly regain some of the physical and tactical performance that netted them both the Champions League and La Liga trophies two months ago, work in the meeting rooms keeps going on smoothly.

Florentino Pérez’s train of thought involves throwing his net into any school of fish that might catch his eye, regardless of the needs of the side. ‘Zizou’ will be the one to put together the jigsaw, no matter the pieces he has. And lately, Madrid’s top brass is fishing for some players who remain in their very early stages of development.

Younger talent is increasingly becoming the solid base on which the foundations of the team are built. Marco Asensio excelled last season, but this year Theo Hernandez (19) arrived from Atlético and Jesús Vallejo (20) returned from his stint in the German Bundesliga. Damn, Madrid even paid a cool $52 million for a sixteen-year-old player (Vinicius Junior) who will land in the team in the summer 2019. Yes, you read that right.

Now it’s Kylian Mbappé’s turn. The French attacker (18) is one of the hottest players in Europe after a tremendous season with AS Monaco FC, where he scored 22 goals, helped his team to conquer the league and was chosen as Young Player of the Year in the Ligue 1. Madrid has been scouting him heavily for many months, and a reported sum of $211 million could seduce Monaco enough to sell him to Los Blancos.

Monaco’s board, however, denies any kind of agreement… at least, for now: “We don’t have a deal involving Mbappé with any club”, stated their Vice-President Vadim Vasilyev, “as he is the football world’s most promising youngster”. In fact, he stated that they are currently negotiating a contract extension with the player.

Should they sign Mbappé or not, the fact is that Zidane keeps increasing the number of promising players under his command. And he isn’t afraid to use them: he showed that by regularly playing Isco, Dani Carvajal, Asensio and others last year, a perfect blend along with the fancier BBC. Even players coming from the youth team are showing impressive prowess: a couple of days ago, a team full of youngsters was able to hold their ground against Jose Mourinho’s more experienced Manchester United (1-1) in a friendly match played in the US.

Now, Zidane has to focus on his attack. Interest in Mbappé isn’t only related to sheer quality and promise, but also to his great season in the scoring department. Selling Álvaro Morata for $93 million to Chelsea might be considered a genius move financially, but leaves a huge gap in the attack. Karim Benzemà is the starting number nine, yes, and we must remember that Cristiano Ronaldo is steadily becoming the world’s most lethal scorer. But Real Madrid may need some extra punch if they want to conquer their third Champions League in a row.

Speaking of the devil… Cristiano Ronaldo keeps mum on his ‘little’ problem with Real. A few weeks ago his departure seemed a possibility, but it has slowly diluted into oblivion. No powerful side in Europe made an offer for him (Real Madrid was asking for $234 million to let him leave), and his hissy fit with the way the club has faced his legal problems seems to have cooled down.

While he enjoys his last days with his family in Asia –he met his friend Peter Lim, Valencia CF’s owner and the person who possesses half of Cristiano’s image rights – in Singapore a few days ago, Real Madrid reportedly believes he will stay in the club and will be once again their flagship player. The Portuguese, though, will have to testify in court on July 31st in relation to his legal problems with tax authorities.

The close season might be coming to an end for Real Madrid, but the drama will continue both on and off the pitch.

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