A report in A Bola claims Real Madrid will sign Benfica midfielder Axel Witsel when they return from their tour of the United States.
The Portuguese publication maintains the deal is almost finalised and the Belgian international’s transfer will be made official next week.
Witsel, 23, joined Benfica from Standard Liege last summer for €9m on a five-year contract with a rescission clause of €40m inserted, and has recently been linked with moves to both Manchester United and mega-rich Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala.
However, Los Blancos’ boss Jose Mourinho has been impressed with Witsel’s versatility, which has seen him able to alternate between central midfield and right-back, and also with the fact that he made 49 official appearances for the Portuguese giants last term, 42 as a starter.
There has also been speculation he could move to Madrid with Fabio Coentrao going in the opposite direction, the left-back having recently made no secret of his desire to return to his former club one day.
Portuguese media have even suggested that the relationship between Benfica and Real Madrid is so cordial that the Spanish champions were given first refusal on the player six months ago should he become available.
If the operation to take Witsel to the Santiago Bernabeu does come to fruition he will be the third Benfica player to tread that path in the last three years, following the combined €60m signings of Angel Di Maria and Coentrao.