With their long-time central defender Pepe looking likely to leave at the end of the season, 11-time Champions League winners Real Madrid have aimed their crosshairs at Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi as a summer transfer target.
Pepe’s decade-long stay at Real Madrid is set to come to a close in June. Indeed, according to Portuguese daily O Jogo, the Brazilian centre-back is thought to be uninterested in signing a new contract to extend his stay at the Santiago Bernabeu beyond this season, and is instead seeking a big-money move to the Chinese Super League.
In line with Pepe’s plans, Real Madrid have drafted Manchester City’s Nicolas Otamendi as Los Blancos’ top-pick to replace the 33-year-old Brazilian at the Spanish Capital.
Despite not quite earning the respect of key pundits due to his penchant for a rick, Otamendi has developed to become a key element in Manchester City’s defensive line this season, evidenced by his 28 appearances for the club so far.
A defender with quick feet who is able to make an incisive pass from the back, he has found himself central in City boss Pep Guardiola’s tactical set-up.
As such, the former Porto and Valencia man has become Real Madrid’s priority target for next season.
There are a number of points that make the Argentine international similar to Pepe. Both are aggressive defenders who like to tackle and are very capable of winning duels in the air. It’s no wonder Real Madrid have eyed the former Valencia man as Pepe’s replacement – they believe the younger defender would have no difficulty transitioning in to their style of play.
Otamendi is also playing at the peak of his career at the moment. At 29, he is at his prime and still has a lot more to offer for any club willing to prise him away from England – a fact not lost on Real manager Zinedine Zidane.
Of course, no matter how eager Madrid are keen to sign the defender, City will equally be keen to keep their top player. As such, a transfer saga between City boss Guardiola and his Real counterpart Zidane will prove to be an entertaining watch come summertime, as any football betting company will attest.
Otamendi’s contract with Manchester City is set to run until 2020.