Why Real Madrid CAN’T afford Sadio Mane: Zinedine Zidane will be forced to abandon pursuit of Liverpool star and focus on raw talent of Vinicius Jr instead due to £720m coronavirus black hole and potential for dressing-room row over more wage cuts
- Zinedine Zidane asked Real Madrid to chase Liverpool’s Sadio Mane last summer
- The French boss is a big fan of the forward but will be forced to look elsewhere
- Real instead want Zidane to focus on moulding the explosive talent of Vinicius Jr
- Club fear dressing-room discontent due to pay cuts so won’t sign big earners
Zinedine Zidane’s desire to make Real Madrid faster, stronger and more aggressive saw him ask the club to pursue Liverpool’s Sadio Mane last summer.
He remains a huge fan of the Liverpool forward but this summer the Spanish club will ask their coach to concentrate on moulding the raw talent of Vinicius instead of holding out for the Liverpool forward.
Since La Liga restarted, Vinicius has led Real Madrid to victory away at Real Sociedad. He won the penalty that broke the Basque club’s resistance and this while still basking in the glory of being Real Madrid’s best player against Barcelona in the season’s second Clasico. He scored in the next game against Real Mallorca too.
Zinedine Zidane had asked Real Madrid to pursue Liverpool forward Sadio Mane last summer
The Real boss was eager to bring in the 28-year-old to improve his side’s pace and aggression
Zidane has not always been completely convinced by the 20-year-old who joined for €45m (£41m) in 2018 but the club’s financial situation coming out of the coronavirus pandemic makes getting the best out of the club’s young players the priority.
When Zidane planned this current season last summer his priority was to make the team quicker and capable of a more intensive style of football. Ferland Mendy came in at left-back, there was a pursuit (albeit without success) of Paul Pogba. And Zidane also fast-tracked midfield athlete Fede Valverde.
He likes Mane for the same reason he likes the physically imposing Pogba, Mendy and Valverde, but Madrid will be hamstrung by the sizeable pay cuts they have to negotiate with the dressing room at the end of this season and so are hugely pessimistic about any signings that would require a major financial outlay.
But Zidane will instead be told to focus on moulding the raw, but explosive, ability of Vinicius Jr
Mane’s arrival on big money could cause cause dressing-room discontent at the LaLiga club
Mane loves Jurgen Klopp and is on big money – around £150,000 per week – at Anfield. Bringing him into Madrid on similar or higher wages when captain Sergio Ramos is still waiting to be offered a new deal and the rest of the dressing room are bracing themselves for another cut in earnings would be problematic.
Real Madrid’s players announced a 10 per cent pay cut for the rest of the season in April and they will negotiate a further cut going into next year.
Spanish football is bracing itself for losses that had been estimated at €300m (£271m) but that La Liga president Javier Tebas put at closer to €800m (£723m) when he gave a press conference before the restarted season.
Madrid fear serious dressing-room discontent if they ask players to make long-term sacrifices and then bring in big earners. Midfielder Casemiro is close to announcing a new deal at Madrid that will take him up to 2023 but his contract extension is believed to illustrate perfectly a new reality at the club.
Sergio Ramos is waiting to be offered a new deal and players are braced for another wage cut
There is also still no movement on renewing Ramos, who will be in his final year at the start of next season.
Madrid were belt-tightening even before the coronavirus crisis because of their ongoing stadium renovation.
Last year, they took out a loan of €575m (£520m), repayable over 30 years, to finance a face-lift at the Santiago Bernabeu that could end up costing €800m (£723m).
They have so far failed to find a naming-rights partner to sponsor the stadium and fear the financial uncertainty caused by the coronavirus crisis will only make that task more difficult.
Real took out a huge loan to finance a face-lift at the Santiago Bernabeu, which began in May
If Real can sell surplus strikers they may look to recruit another attacker with Mane on the list
If Madrid can sell surplus forwards Mariano Diaz and Luka Jovic then the club could look at bringing in another forward, and there is no question Zidane prefers Mane to Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Braut Haaland.
He likes the idea of moving Hazard into a central role in a 4-2-3-1 with the Belgian playing behind Karim Benzema and Mane as the wide left-forward.
But Mane would be so difficult to prize away from Anfield that Vinicius, who is progressing in the same position, is the player the club want to line up on the left as Zidane evolves his attacking options into next season.
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