After completing the required formalities for Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger, Real Madrid are now focused on reinforcing the Castilla, and for that, Malaga’s Loren Zuniga and Deportivo’s Noel Lopez have been identified as potential targets.
Spanish news outlet Diario AS says although Zuniga has a valid contract with Malaga until 2024, those sitting in Real Madrid’s offices have already begun talks for the summer transfer. The outlet also credits the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Juventus with an interest.
One good thing for Madrid, though, is that the player’s priority, in case he does leave, will be to play in Spain and sign for Real.
Noel Lopez, on the other hand, is proving out to be a tough nut to crack. It’s being said that Real have been trying to close his deal for months but their efforts haven’t really come to fruition.
Such has been Real’s interest in Lopez that the youngster was even invited to watch the team’s home game against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
However, the only thing hindering the progress is Atletico Madrid’s interest. And apart from the two Madrid teams, other foreign teams have expressed interest too.
AS claims Real’s interest in Loren Zuniga and Noel Lopez comes after two of their own Castilla players are on the verge of exits. This includes the likes of Juanmi Latasa and Andri Gudjohnsen.
While Latasa and Gudjohnsen still have contracts until 2024 and 2023 respectively, lack of first-team football means the duo is on the hunt to find new teams that fulfil their wishes.
At Real, they understand the situation quite well and believe at this stage, it’s completely fine to ask for a better place in the first team, but at this moment, there is simply no place for it.
Rival watch: Liverpool ace van Dijk out for over a month, doubt for Real Madrid clash
Real Madrid have restarted their campaign with a 2-0 win over Real Valladolid in La Liga, which was followed by a narrow victory over Cacereno in the Copa del Rey. But the road is set to get tougher, especially as the reigning Spanish champions look to shift their focus on European competitions.
One of the biggest tests for Real Madrid in this second half of the season will be the Champions League Round of 16 clash against Liverpool.
Heading into the first-leg encounter at Anfield next month, however, Real Madrid have been handed a major boost as Virgil van Dijk, one of Liverpool’s most important players, has been sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Regarded as the defensive leader for Liverpool, the Dutchman had picked up a knock and had to be substituted during the Reds’ game against Brentford. It was not thought to be a serious one initially.
But Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp has revealed that van Dijk’s hamstring injury appears to be much ‘harsher’ and the defender has been ruled out for more than a month.
“Virg was a surprise for us, obviously, a big blow. He didn’t feel a lot. I took him off, actually, no risk. In the end, the diagnosis was pretty harsh, but we talk about weeks – more than a month. I hope it goes quickly, but for now, he is not available. That’s how it is,” said Klopp (h/t GOAL).
“For Virg, it’s harsh. He played an incredible amount of games over the last years. [Now] we cannot use him on the pitch at least. Off the pitch, we will do that,” the German added.
Van Dijk’s hamstring injury means he could face a race against time to be fit for Liverpool’s clash against Real Madrid, with the first leg to be played on February 21 at Anfield.
The Dutchman’s absence could be a major blow for a Liverpool defence that has leaked goals this season. Klopp, though, backed his other options to do well, adding, “We have other centre-halves, as long as that’s the case everything is OK for the team.”