What's on the menu?

Thibaut Courtois excelled in Russia this summer.
Thibaut Courtois excelled in Russia this summer. / EFE
  • opinion

  • The World Cup has whet Florentino Pérez's appetite, but it could be slim pickings this summer for the Real Madrid president

It's normal at this time of the year for Florentino Pérez to move his glasses to the end of his nose and order the finest delicacies from the menu.

Whatever is in World Cup vogue is his desire. This year, it is a little trickier to fill his plate, though.

"I'll have the player of the tournament," is usually the demand of the Real Madrid president.

"Sorry, Don Florentino, you already have that dish" is the reply.

"Ok, I'll go for the raw Mbappé," responds Pérez. "Alas Sir, he's off the menu." "Griezmann?" Same reply.

"What about the most outstanding young footballer at tournament?" "That would be the Raphaël Varane and you already purchased him many years ago, sir."

Eventually, it appears, Señor Pérez has worked his way down the list and settled for the goalkeeper who was vintage at the tournament. "Ah, the Belgian, we have that on a special."

Thibaut Courtois may not set the Real Madrid supremo's heart racing but he may actually be just what is best for the health of the club.

He's only 26, he's already accomplished, he knows Madrid from his time at Atlético and, at the highest level, he has proven to be more reliable than David de Gea.

De Gea was the object of desire for Pérez for a number of years but after the famous 'fax machine faux pas' he became unattainable.

Courtois is one of the few players on the world market who can actually improve the reigning European champions. He's marginally better than Keylor Navas but margins are what win trophies. A fee of £35 million would be the bargain of the summer.

There's plenty of speculation that his Chelsea and Belgium team mate Eden Hazard may also follow. This may not be such a bargain and not such a sensible strategy.

Hazard is undoubtedly a class act but so was James Rodríguez in 2014 and the Colombian has been an expensive spare part. He was loaned out to Bayern Munich but has returned to his parent club and is now 'seeking new opportunities', as they write on LinkedIn.

Over at the Camp Nou, there are also a large number of footballers looking for a new life away. The club is holding a fire sale to fund further spending after the recruitment of Brazilian youngster Arthur and Frenchman Clément Lenglet from Sevilla.

Yerry Mina looked awkward when he played for Barcelona but did show why the club invested in him when starring for Colombia at the World Cup. His availability will undoubtedly attract interest from many clubs. This may not be the same for the other surplus players.

André Gomes needs to be released from his misery, Jasper Cillessen will want goalkeeping game time, Aleix Vidal is available for a knockdown price and Lucas Digne has never really threatened at Barcelona.

At the moment, there isn't a 'galáctico' signing on the horizon but, then again, Florentino Pérez hasn't reached the end of the menu and he may want Neymar for dessert.