MADRID — While Barcelona was working to keep Lionel Messi, defending champion Real Madrid was quietly making moves to get ready for the Spanish league season.
With the transfer of James Rodríguez to Everton made official on Monday, Madrid reportedly reached nearly €90 million ($106 million) in profits through a busy period in which it reorganised its squad.
The club loaned and sold several players who coach Zinedine Zidane was not planning to use this season, with the only major question mark remaining over whether Gareth Bale will stay for yet another season.
Bale and Rodríguez didn’t get many minutes under Zidane last season and were already expected to be transferred. Madrid reportedly pocketed €25 million ($26 million) for Rodríguez, and Spanish media said the club was willing to sell the Wales forward for about the same price.
The 31-year-old Bale, whose last Spanish league goal with Madrid was scored in September 2019, has a contract with the club until 2022.
In addition to Rodríguez’s sale, Madrid also transferred right back Achraf Hakimi to Inter Milan for a reported fee of €40 million ($47 million). It reportedly earned more than €13 million ($15 million) from the transfer of youngster Óscar Rodríguez to Sevilla, and also profited from the sales of some lesser known players who were not likely to have space in the main squad, including Javi Sánchez, Dani Gómez and Alberto Soro.
Hakimi was coming back from a loan with Borussia Dortmund. Young Japan forward Takefusa Kubo also was on a loan, with Mallorca, and this season was sent to Villarreal. Goalkeeper Alphonse Areola returned to Paris Saint-Germain after a stint with Madrid. Reinier will play on a loan with Dortmund, as will Brahim Diaz with AC Milan and Jesús Vallejo with Granada.
Promising youngster Martin Odegaard finished his spell with Real Sociedad and is expected to stay with Madrid to help make up for the absence of Rodríguez at midfield.
It’s still unclear whether Madrid will keep defender Sergio Reguilón, who returned from a loan with Sevilla. Reguilón made his Spain debut in the Nations League this weekend, but he sustained a left ankle injury that could reduce Madrid’s options to loan or sell him.
Madrid’s recent moves came as Barcelona worked to keep Messi after the Argentine great said he wanted to leave. Messi eventually changed his mind after the club said it would not facilitate his transfer.
Madrid, which in July won its first league title in three years, will start the new season at Real Sociedad in less than two weeks. The club’s first match against Getafe was postponed because Madrid played in the Champions League.
Madrid is still expected to host matches without fans at the Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium, located at the team’s training center, while the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium remains under renovation.
Associated Press (AP)