Analysis: Surprise Real Madrid target would be perfect replacement for potential defensive exit

‘Nacho quedate’ [Nacho stay] has become an increasingly frequent song to hear around the Santiago Bernabeu these days. The veteran defender has been a constant at Real Madrid for the last decade, Nacho Fernandez is very much part of the furniture.

Yet with his contract expiring this summer, there appears to be little movement on a new deal for the 33-year-old. It is thought that he will come to a decision by the time April rolls around.

Coming into the side much more regularly in the second half of the season, following a series of injuries to David Alaba, Ferland Mendy, Lucas Vazquez and Eder Militao, Nacho has shown just how reliable he can be for Carlo Ancelotti. However his lack of game time, losing significant minutes before the World Cup in order to accomodate Antonio Rudiger, have made him doubt whether he has a future at the Bernabeu.

According to Fichajes, Real Madrid are already lining up a replacement though. Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta renewed his deal last summer, after being courted by Barcelona for a number of months, but Los Blancos will attempt to prise him away from London by doing what Barcelona couldn’t or wouldn’t – pay €10m for him.

Few signings would fit the bill as much as Azpilicueta. More comfortable moving forward and at right-back, Azpilicueta would provide genuine competition for Dani Carvajal next season, who is coming under increasing pressure due to his poor performances. Azpilicueta is as reliable and consistent as they come, and faces plenty of competition at Chelsea too.

The same age as Nacho, he could slot in for the short-term at a reasonable price, performing in central defence or at right-back should he be needed. It would also help the dressing room culture at Valdebebas, bringing in a leader and a consumate professional. Nacho will be a loss if he leaves, but Real Madrid could scarcely re-imagine a more suitable veteran to replace him.

It does not fit with their usual business of recent years, preferring only to spend money on younger players, while signing more established stars on free transfers. Perhaps the biggest stumbling block would be a contract – Real Madrid generally only offer one-year deals to those over the age of 30, and investing €10m for one season would make little sense. However a two to three year deal would mean forgetting about the potential impact of losing Nacho. They would also have to persuade him to leave, which as Barcelona found, is not quite as simple as it may appear.

Tags Barcelona Cesar Azpilicueta Chelsea Real Madrid

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