There are a number of talented forwards linked to Real Madrid in the summer 2022 transfer window, as the club did not sign Kylian Mbappe. Thus, it stands to reason that the Merengues will spend that money and use that spot in the squad on a new attacker.
Of course, all of that assumes Real Madrid can manage to sell the forwards who no longer have a place in the squad. Strikers Luka Jovic and Mariano Diaz have long been on the transfer list, and Marco Asensio is also a priority to sell with one year left on his contract. But given that he would want to hit free agency in order to have a free pick of teams and snag higher wages/bonuses, selling Asensio may be difficult.
If Real Madrid can sell Asensio, Serge Gnabry would make the most sense as a replacement on the right wing. No attacking player has been linked to Los Blancos more frequently than the Bayern Munich man, who, like Asensio, will be out of contract after the 2022/23 season.
So right there, I am giving you two reasons why Real Madrid won’t pursue Gnabry until later in the 2022 summer transfer window – if they even go after him at all.
Real Madrid may need to sell Marco Asensio first
Firstly, Real have to wait because they need to sell Asensio first. Logistically, it is difficult to keep two spots in the squad and pay wages to both Asensio and Gnabry. Yes, Gnabry is the better fit for Real Madrid, but Florentino Perez probably wouldn’t want to pay him big money while Asensio is still on the books.
Secondly, Perez wouldn’t want to pay a significant transfer fee for Gnabry if he already has Asensio. And even if he can sell Asensio to fund a subsequent move for Gnabry as his replacement, the Real Madrid president may still be hesitant about spending. Well, at least, not right away.
Remember, the Raphael Varane transfer rumors started in May last year, but he did not move to Manchester United until late July for 50 million euros. And Real Madrid themselves did not show interest in Kylian Mbappe, who had one year left on his contract, until the final weeks of the transfer window.
Teams wait before pursuing out-of-contract players. The reason is that the leverage goes to the buyer in this case. For the selling club, the worst-case scenario is that the player leaves for free the next year, and so if buying clubs wait, they can reduce the asking price and get a better deal. Superstars are a different case, because, as we saw with Real’s acquisitions of Eden Hazard and Cristiano Ronaldo from the Premier League, there is often a pre-arranged deal between clubs so that the player leaves one year before their contract ends at a price that ensures the selling club is left in good hands as a respectful gesture from the departing player. (PSG turned out to be an exception to ALL of this as a state-owned club with an unlimited budget and an unlimited desire to go to any lengths to keep a superstar.)
Real Madrid rarely pay 40 million for veteran players who aren’t superstars
Gnabry is not a superstar player, so the first scenario applies. Real Madrid will wait as long as possible in this window to see if Bayern reduce the fee. (Robert Lewandowski is their superstar, but let’s not unpack what is happening there, because the pre-arranged deal could never exist, as Real Madrid made it clear to Lewa in 2021 that they would not be interested in him due to Karim Benzema’s presence.)
Currently, the reported price for Gnabry is 40 million euros. Florentino Perez has not spent that kind of money on a player over the age of 25 who is not a superstar in a long, long time. In the cases of veterans Antonio Rudiger and David Alaba, he got them for free. Others like Rodrygo Goes, Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy, Luka Jovic, Reinier, Eduardo Camavinga, and Vinicius Jr. were investments in the future. Eden Hazard was a superstar in the second scenario from above.
Perez is eyeing Gnabry as a potential free transfer, and Gnabry knows he could get a lot more money directly to himself as a free agent, as opposed to Bayern pocketing 40 million euros of Real’s money.
Would Perez and Real sign Gnabry this summer? I think it is possible, but not for 40 million euros. They would need to see a steep discount for that to happen. With Arsenal and others potentially lurking, I am not sure the price goes that low, but if Arsenal sign Gabriel Jesus (or another forward) and Bayern cannot find enough suitors to drive the price up, that’s when Real Madrid will swoop.
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But because there are so many uncertain variables impacting both Gnabry’s price and feasibility, such as Asensio’s lingering presence, Madridistas should expect to wait a month – or maybe even two – before we get any real insight on Real’s interest in Gnabry.
Gnabry is an excellent player who can help Real significantly, and the club should try to sign him, especially as a free agent. However, looking at how the club operate, it is likely they will exercise patience to maximize their leverage before deciding to make a move this summer. Getting the price down from 40 million euros will be key.
And one more thing. Gnabry may be the most popular name linked to Madrid, but he is far from the only player available. By waiting, Real can see if other market opportunities arrive, including ones that appeal to them more than Gnabry. You never know what twists and turns are on the market, so by avoiding an early commitment, Real can keep those unseen options open.