Real Madrid's biggest signing of the summer so far has been that of Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho. And the "Special One" is looking to strengthen his squad ahead of a tough first season in Spain for him. While before the World Cup the focus seemed to be on English players with the likes of Liverpool's Steven Gerrard and Chelsea's Ashley Cole on top of the wish list, it now seems Mourinho is rather looking at young German talent to bring to the Bernabeu.
The names being linked with Real Madrid are that of midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira and Mesut Özil plus the surprise one of striker Mario Gomez. While in the case of Schweinsteiger it looks a lost cause as Bayern Munich are unlikely to release the 25 year old, who has come through the ranks at the Bavarian giants and has finally made the breakthrough; with Khedira it looks somewhat different. There it seems to be an issue of the transfer fee and modalities between Real Madrid and VfB Stuttgart. Real's first offer was said to be 8 Million Euros, while Stuttgart were willing to sell Khedira for 15 Million Euros. The follow-up offer is said to be higher at 10 Million Euros plus Dutch winger Royston Drenthe. But Stuttgart has denied any talks so far, while Khedira and his agent are said to have been in Madrid this week to have a look at the club and speak to Mourinho about his plans for the young midfielder. Here a transfer looks very much possible and at the end it will be an issue of money and modality.
But Mourinho isn't done with German players in signing Khedira. He also has set his sights on new midfield sensation Mesut Oezil. But Mourinho isn't the only one interested in Oezil. English Premier League giants Chelsea and Arsenal along with rivals FC Barcelona are also showing an interest in the Werder Bremen midfielder, whose contract is set to end in 2011. And Oezil seems to be interested to leave Germany and try his luck elsewhere. So if Bremen want to cash in on Oezil they will have to sell him this summer. But Bremen say they would rather retain Oezil and would try to renew his contract then sell him. But over the years Bremen has not been able to retain top talent who either move on to Bayern Munich or abroad.
The link of Mario Gomez and Real Madrid came as a major surprise to me. But for Mourinho there is a simple logic behind it. Living Real legend Raul is no longer a first eleven player and he would like to try his luck elsewhere. 33 year old Raul is said to have had concrete talks with German Bundesliga side FC Schalke 04, while his former Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster is interested to bring him to Turkey to play for Besiktas Istanbul. So Mourinho needs a potent replacement and Mario Gomez seems to have caught his eye. And to make it interesting for Gomez's club Bayern Munich Real are willing to offer Rafael van der Vaart as bait. One will have to see if Bayern are interested to sell Gomez, who started off well in Munich but towards the end of the season had no real chance under manager Louis van Gaal.
So far Real Madrid have been rather calm and quite in the transfer market, even though they have already spend 41 Million Euros on Ángel Di María (Benfica Lisbon, 25 Million), Pedro Léon (FC Getafe, 10 Million) and Sergio Canales (Racing Santander, 6 Million). But surely Mourinho will look to add some big names to his squad before the transfer period closes on August 31 and he might until then also offload some player who do not fit into his plans.