Real Madrid have the best center back duo in European football in Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, as well as an excellent young backup in summer signing Eder Militao. But they could use one more top young center back to replace the struggling Jesus Vallejo.
Florentino Perez has made it a priority to sign top young players at reasonable price points before they become superstars, and since Real Madrid have the resources, infrastructure, and loan relationships, they can offer the most opportunities for these young players to develop to their full potential.
According to a report from Manu de Juan of AS, Real Valladolid defender Mohammed Salisu is “at the top” of manager Zinedine Zidane’s wishlist, presumably at the center back position.
Salisu received interest from European clubs earlier this season, but since his play has only increased in quality since, bigger clubs are interested. In addition to Real Madrid, Manchester United, Atletico Madrid, Valencia, and Getafe are also monitoring the talented defender with a modest release clause of 12 million euros.
Just 20 years old, the Benin international has been central to Valladolid’s brilliance on defense this season. Madridistas got an opportunity to watch Salisu’s gifts on display just a few weeks ago, as he led a gritty defensive effort against Real Madrid. Los Blancos won the game 1-0, but Salisu showed great leadership and defensive qualities against one of Europe’s best teams.
Salisu is an intelligent defender who has jaw-dropping upside at 20. He has been one of La Liga’s top defenders this season and is a true breakout star for Valladolid. Salisu is destined to play for a bigger club, and at Real, he could play in cup games and rotate behind the starters or go on loan to an interested La Liga club like Getafe or a Schalke/Bayer Leverkusen level club in the Bundesliga.
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Real Madrid wouldn’t be able to start Salisu immediately, but he has time before he reaches his peak as a defender. He is already on a great trajectory and would be a true bargain at 12 million euros. It’s great to see that Zidane is considering him as a cheap, young center back option, and it will be exciting to track the remainder of Salisu’s season. Clearly, he made an impression on the manager in late January.