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Real Madrid set sights on 21-year-old Argentine international as Bellingham alternative

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Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images

According to MARCA, Real Madrid have identified SL Benfica and Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez as a possible alternative to priority midfield target Jude Bellingham for the summer of 2023.

It is no secret at this point that Real Madrid are intent on strengthening their midfield next summer as Luka Modric enters the final phase of his career while Toni Kroos has been hinting at retirement as well.

Bellingham has been identified as the primary target by the Merengues, and is seen as the final piece to complete the midfield transition at the club.

However, the 19-year-old is attracting serious interest from the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool and could end up costing in excess of €100 million – something that Real Madrid are unwilling to pay.

As a result, Los Blancos are keeping their options open and have landed on Enzo Fernandez as a possible alternative in case they miss out on Bellingham.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side are keeping tabs on the 21-year-old Argentine at the World Cup and have been impressed by his performance against Mexico – a game in which he scored a spectacular goal.

Real Madrid were interested in signing Enzo Fernandez back when he was at River Plate and were close to completing the transfer. But the move fell through because of two reasons.

Firstly, the club had no non-EU slots remaining in the first-team squad, which is no longer an issue now that Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr and Eder Militao have all received Spanish citizenship.

The second issue was the concern regarding the adaptation period the player might need after moving from South America to Europe. However, those fears have been allayed by Fernandez’s performances for Benfica this season.

Indeed, since joining the Portuguese outfit in the summer, the 21-year-old has made a big impression, producing three goals and five assists in 24 matches. And he has continued to do well at the World Cup, convincing Real Madrid that he can be a top signing.

Benfica signed Enzo Fernandez in a deal worth €18 million, including variables. While his value has skyrocketed over the past few months and he is contracted with the club until 2027, the Argentine is unlikely to cost more than €100 million.

So, in case Real Madrid deem Bellingham as too expensive or get beaten by other suitors to his signing, Enzo Fernandez is being lined up as the alternative.

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid chief scout surprised over summer signing’s lack of minutes

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Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images

Arda Guler was one of Real Madrid’s biggest bets last summer. The youngster joined from Fenerbahce for a fee of €20 million and was regarded as one of the best young talents in Europe.

Many expected Guler to follow the example of Jude Bellingham and become an instant hit at the Bernabeu.

Guler’s struggles at Real Madrid

However, with just one month remaining before the season comes to an end, it is fair to say that Guler has endured a tough season at the Bernabeu.

The Turkish international is yet to even muster 100 minutes of action this season. His progress was largely halted by injuries, but it must be noted that the player has been fit since the start of the year.

Yet, Guler has featured in only 31 minutes of league action, with a goal against Celta Vigo being his most notable contribution.

Looking for that one chance (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

Juni Calafat surprised at Guler’s lack of gametime

In light of Guler’s struggles this season, a report from Rodra P (h/t Madrid Xtra) suggests Real Madrid’s chief scout, Juni Calafat, is surprised at Guler’s lack of opportunities this season.

Calafat, who was crucial in unearthing talents such as Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo and Federico Valverde, is one of the great supporters of Guler.

But he is surprised with the way Carlo Ancelotti has handled Guler, not giving him enough opportunities to impress.

In fact, Guler’s struggles this season have led many to conspire about his future. A loan move has been suggested and there are no shortage of suitors either.

Ancelotti, for his part, has maintained that Guler is getting better physically. It appears the Italian is practising caution with the youngster, especially given his injury-related struggles during the first half of the campaign.

Following Real Madrid’s win over Barcelona, though, Guler will be hoping for more frequent opportunities in the league, as Ancelotti keeps one eye on the Champions League.

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