Far from basking in the glory of a third consecutive UEFA Champions League title, the mood at Santiago Bernabeu is one of unease and anxiety.
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Real Madrid's poster-boy Cristiano Ronaldo set the ball of troubles rolling by hinting that he could be heading for the exit door. He's been heard saying:
“In the coming days there will be answers about my future. It has been very nice playing for Real Madrid.”
This sudden development has stunned even bitter arch-rival Lionel Messi of Barcelona who feels that the Los Blancos striker could be angling for another pay-hike at the Bernabeu. Ronaldo's tacit overtures with his former club Manchester United is also believed to be a bargaining chip with Real for wage-enhancement.[excerptlist num=6 cat='World Cup' display='Vertical' ]
Bale to Exit
Another candidate for departure, Gareth Bale, who rarely started games for better part of the 2017-18 season came good in the Champions League finals netting 2 goals (that included one from a spectacular bicycle kick) as did Karim Benzema who struck form late with a brace in the Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich. But a late revival in form came in an otherwise mediocre season for the two.
There were moments when coach Zinedine Zidane was contemplating disposing off both Bale & Benzema and bringing in someone like KylianMbappe.
Bayern Munich to outbid for Bale
Meanwhile there are reports that Bayern Munich may have worked out a plan to outbid Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in their intended acquisition of Bale.
The Bundesliga giants are reported to be working out a swap-deal with Real Madrid which could see defensive mid-fielder David Alaba leave for Spain. With Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben reaching the twilight of their careers at Bayern, none other than the 28-year old Bale is perceived as a perfect replacement for the two aging forwards.
Benzema to Stamford Bridge
News about Benzema is that London club Chelsea have shown a lot of interest in the French striker despite a below par season at Real. The Los Blancos forward whose brace against Bayern Munich helped the club reach the finals seemed to have found form and showed signs of his latent brilliance.
The Blues are desperate for a good striker especially in the light of their costly Madrid acquisition Alvaro Morata coming a cropper after a poor season.
Benzema is reportedly keen on earning the same wage-package he was getting at Madrid, something the Chelsea management are more than willing to accommodate.
Meanwhile, there's been immense pressure on Ronaldo to stay put at Bernabeu from team-mates like Sergio Ramos and Marcello. Messi expects the Real management to dance to the Portuguese talisman's tune for some time before he decides to stay on at Madrid with a bumper new pay package.