Did Real Madrid throw away their advantage to Raphael Varane contingency plan?

Real Madrid, Raphael Varane (Photo by Stanislav Vedmid/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Raphael Varane (Photo by Stanislav Vedmid/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /

Real Madrid could be headed for a bit of a transition at the center back position. They have been preparing for this, considering their decision to sign Eder Militao in 2019 for 50 million euros and their interest in top young center backs like Jules Kounde, Dayot Upamecano, Pau Torres, and Benoit Badiashile.

But with Sergio Ramos on an expiring contract and Raphael Varane’s contract set to run out next year, Los Blancos might have to make a splash at the center back position sooner than they’d like.

The best option would undoubtedly be Kounde. He is only 22, but he is safely ahead of all the other targets in his passing accuracy, composure, and overall defensive ability. Anyone doubting his class should watch his performance against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey.

Kounde is the dream, but he won’t come cheap. His release clause is set at 80 million euros, and Sevilla have no reason to sell him for anything less than the amount required by this clause.

But the interesting thing is that Real could have had an advantage to signing Kounde over every other club.

Real Madrid could have had the right of first refusal to Jules Kounde

According to Pedro Riesco on Radio MARCA, Real Madrid actually turned down the right of first refusal to a future Jules Kounde transfer away from Sevilla. They were offered such an opportunity last summer while negotiating with Sevilla over attacking midfielder Oscar Rodriguez, but they wanted the extra 1.5 million euros more than this inside track to one of the world’s best young center backs.

One year later and Florentino Perez’s anxiousness over fewer than two million euros could come back to bite him. Kounde is wanted by several big clubs around Europe, including Los Blancos, and he is as close to a must-have as there is at the center back position.

Real Madrid could have set themselves up to beat the competition for Kounde by agreeing to this handshake deal with an influential La Liga club with whom they share an important relationship. Instead, they obtained a negligible amount of money that won’t exactly help them in their pursuit of Kylian Mbappe, which was the whole purpose of their summer 2020 firesale.

All is not lost with Kounde, but if, for example, Varane decided to move on to another challenge, his only truly ideal replacement could wriggle away from Los Blancos. If Real sell Varane for 50 million euros, as MARCA reports, they still would not have enough to pry away Kounde, given Sevilla rejected more than that amount this summer.

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Even so, we cannot overreact. A “right of first refusal” would not give Los Blancos the cash they’d need to sign Kounde, of course. But it would have given them the ability to negotiate over clubs with deeper pockets. That advantage could have been a game-changer.