Real Madrid look primed to make another star signing next summer and it appears they will pursue a midfielder. Prolonging the search for someone to cover the absence of Luka Modric, now 37, is no longer an option and it looks as if it might be one of Jude Bellingham or Enzo Fernandez.
The Croatian has outrun age beyond what anyone else thought possible, and is still turning in excellent performances. It will not be lost on Real Madrid not only that it cannot go on forever, but also that he suffered from a drop off following the last World Cup in Russia.
The two most strongly linked players have been Jude Bellingham of Borussia Dortmund and Enzo Martinez of Benfica. The latest reporting is that Liverpool, who competed for Aurelien Tchouameni last summer, have agreed a deal for Fernandez. Meanwhile they are also rivalling Los Blancos for Jude Bellingham. Diario AS say that agreement could clear the way for Real Madrid to move for the England international, while MD believe that they might lose out to Liverpool on both. Under the assumption they cannot afford both, which makes more sense for Real Madrid though?
Bellingham’s talent has been on the radar for longer, playing in Europe and the Champions League, meaning Los Blancos have more evidence of his talent to go on.
His skillset makes him a massive threat going forward. Able to beat a defender, play incisive passes and with good movement around the box, his four goals in the Champions League group stages are no coincidence. For England at the World Cup, he was also a major threat, barrelling through midfield.
He will likely cost more out of the two, being both English and more of an attacking threat. Dortmund can also demand a larger fee than Benfica.
Meanwhile Enzo Fernandez’s rise has been more rapid – in an European context. He was starring for River Plate and Defensa y Justicia in the very physical Argentine league beforehand. Since moving to Benfica last summer, he has slotted into European football seamlessly though, holding his own against the Paris Saint-Germain midfield in the Champions League too.
Fernandez is a player that probably operates more outside the box, but his vision, precise passing and creativity make him a valuable asset on the ball too. Perhaps his work looks a little less flashy than that of Bellingham, but he does keep a team ticking over in the engine room.
Comparing the two to Modric, who they will be tasked with taking the position of, if not replacing, perhaps Martinez is more similar. When Modric arrived from Tottenham, he had often played deeper in a 4-2-3-1 as Fernandez currently does for Benfica. Fernandez is also used to helping out from the first stage of progression, which Modric often does if Los Blancos are struggling.
However Modric has also developed into the solutions man for Real Madrid around the box too, tending to direct play around the box when they must break down the defence. Bellingham is more differential in the final third and might add a new dimension to the middle of the park. Without Casemiro, only Fede Valverde arrives in the box with purpose.
Taking into account the presence of Tchouameni, and the assumed continuation of Toni Kroos, Bellingham might give the most balance to the Real Madrid midfield. While Fernandez has shown himself capable of rising to every challenge so far, it could be said that Bellingham has more unique talents for a midfielder, which might benefit them more. Signing either looks like excellent business on paper though.