Transfer news - Real Madrid plan to use Eden Hazard as pawn in Kylian Mbappe bid - Paper Round
Real Madrid feel they are "stuck" with Eden Hazard, but will try to use him in a deal to sign Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain. Elsewhere, Los Blancos have identified a Raphael Varane replacement, Conor Gallagher is ready to fight for his place at Chelsea and Watford begin to plan their transfer business ahead of their return to the Premier League. It's Monday's Paper Round...
Eden Hazard of Real Madrid, Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint Germain during the UEFA Champions League match between Real Madrid v Paris Saint Germain at the Santiago Bernabeu on November 26, 2019 in Madrid Spain
Real Madrid have accepted that they will be "stuck" with club-record signing Eden Hazard due to his whopping £25 million-a-season contract. The Mail reveal that Los Blancos would ideally use Hazard as a pawn in a deal to sign Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain, but it's "unlikely" that the French champions would be interested. Hazard's time in the Spanish capital has been ravaged with injuries and he recently came under criticism for joking around with ex-Chelsea teammates after the Blues knocked Real Madrid out of the Champions League. The 30-year-old has made just 28 Liga appearances moving to the Santiago Bernabeu in 2019 and has three years remaining on his contract.
Paper Round's view: It might be harsh - but it wouldn't be outrageous to label Hazard as Real Madrid's worst signing in recent years. The Belgian international has looked far from his best since joining Real in a transfer that could be worth up to €150 million. Los Blancos now feel like they are stuck with another Gareth Bale situation. Hazard's contract is too expensive for any other club to take on. Real Madrid should try and give the ex-Chelsea forward a bit more time. If Hazard can stay fit for a few months at the start of next season, he will hopefully get his confidence back and Real will have the player they thought they were signing for a club-record transfer fee.
Real Madrid have accepted that centre-back Raphael Varane will leave the club this summer, according to AS. The Frenchman has one year remaining on his contract, so Los Blancos will sell him at the end of this season in order to receive a transfer fee. Real Madrid have identified Jules Kounde of Sevilla and Villarreal's Pau Torres as their top targets. Kounde is "the number one candidate" and AS report that Sevilla would be willing to accept offers of €60 million, despite the 22-year-old's release clause being worth €80 million.
Paper Round's view: Real Madrid could be in trouble this summer if both Varane and club captain Sergio Ramos depart the Santiago Bernabeu. There has been a lot of chat over the past week that the Spanish side needs to begin its rebuild after the core of the squad looked aged against Chelsea in the Champions League. But the club should be doing everything they can to keep Varane. The 28-year-old has been at Real Madrid for 10 years now and has won every trophy possible, so maybe he feels ready for a new challenge. Kounde would be a brilliant - but expensive - replacement. There are a few other areas of the squad that Real need to improve, so losing two first-choice centre-backs this summer would be far from ideal.
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Gallagher plans to fight for Chelsea role
Chelsea youngster Conor Gallagher is set to snub a potential summer loan move in favour of fighting for his place at Stamford Bridge. The Sun report that the 21-year-old, who is currently on loan at West Bromwich Albion, is aiming to "force his way" into Thomas Tuchel's plans for next season. Gallagher has attracted attention from Leeds United, Crystal Palace and Newcastle, but is set to reject any advances in an attempt to fulfil his "long-held dream" of playing for the senior Chelsea side.
Paper Round's view: This would be a very brave move from Gallagher, so fair play to him. The young star has proven that he is a Premier League-level midfielder during the current campaign spent out on loan at West Brom, where he has made 29 appearances. He's clearly got ambition as he's backing himself to break into a side that has reached the Champions League and FA Cup finals... but would he be making a mistake? Billy Gilmour, another young central midfielder, chose to stay at Stamford Bridge instead of heading out on loan and he has made sporadic first-team appearances. Maybe Gallagher will do the same next season.
Watford are already beginning to plan for the summer transfer window ahead of their return to the Premier League after clinching promotion from the Championship on the first time of asking. The Hornets have entered talks with Colombian striker Rafael Santos Borre, who is available to move for free this summer following the expiration of his contract at River Plate. The 25-year-old has gained interest from other Premier League sides and Atletico Madrid could be open to re-signing the South American, who left the La Liga club back in 2017.
Paper Round's view: Watford managed to hold on to quite a few of their big-name players this season, even after their relegation to the Championship. This will be helpful for the summer. The club won't need to invest huge amounts of money into the squad to bring it back up to Premier League level. Borre seems like a sensible signing - and he would be available for free. Obviously a move to Atletico Madrid may seem more appealing than Watford on paper, but he spent two years in the Spanish capital from 2015 to 2017 and didn't make a single league appearance for Atleti. Watford would offer more minutes and a chance for something new.