Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain celebrates winning during the UEFA Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain

7 transfer targets Real Madrid missed out on in the summer & how they’ve fared this season

Real Madrid’s signing of Jude Bellingham dominated the headlines during the summer transfer window, but what about the players they didn’t land? 

Carlo Ancelotti’s side failed to retain their La Liga and Champions League crowns last term and responded by landing one of the best young players in world football. But might they have been more ambitious and made further improvements? The gossip columns certainly suggested they considered doing more business.

We’ve taken a closer look at seven of Madrid’s reported transfer targets from over the summer and assessed how they’ve fared in 2023-24 so far.

Kylian Mbappe

Another summer, another Mbappe transfer saga, another false alarm where he’s ended up staying exactly where he is.

The World Cup winner’s announcement that he will not be extending his current PSG deal sent the tabloids into meltdown, with suggestions that his long-mooted move to Real Madrid might – finally, actually, for real this time – happen. Except, obviously, it didn’t. See you next summer for the same tedious circus.

Mbappe recently scored a hat-trick against Reims, taking his tally to 13 league goals already, but PSG boss Luis Enrique still believes he can offer more.

“I am not happy with Kylian Mbappe. I have nothing to say about the goals, but he can help the team in another way. I will talk about it with him first, but they are private conversations. Kylian is one of the best players in the world, but we want more. We want him to do more,” he told Prime Video Sport.

Gabri Veiga

“Embarrassing,” was Toni Kroos’ cutting verdict when Veiga, just 21, decided to take the cash and move to the Saudi Pro League in August.

Real Madrid were just one of the many elite clubs linked with the rising star, who had established himself as one of Spanish football’s finest prospects after an exceptional breakthrough campaign with Celta Vigo last term.

The attacking midfielder has made the majority of his appearances off the bench for Al-Ahli this season. He’s yet to make his senior debut for Spain and is likely to continue waiting, given his career choice.

Goncalo Inacio

The Portuguese centre-back is one of the jewels of Sporting Lisbon’s academy. He’s made over a hundred appearances for his boyhood club and is increasingly being talked up as one of the best young defenders in Europe.

Real Madrid were said to be keeping tabs on Inacio’s progress last season, while AS report that they may move to sign him in January after opting against moving for him in the summer.

The defender ended up staying put at Sporting but has been linked with the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Newcastle in recent weeks. We don’t expect to see him sticking around in Portugal for much longer – especially with a reported €60million release clause.

Alphonso Davies

Sky Germany reported in the summer that David Alaba was pushing for Real Madrid to sign his former Bayern Munich team-mate.

There continues to be speculation over the rapid left-back’s future at the Allianz Arena. His current deal expires in 2025 and reports remain ongoing as to whether he’ll extend.

Watch this space; every chance that Madrid will make a move to sign Davies for a cut-price deal if he only has a year left on his contract next summer.

The 23-year-old Canada international has been a near ever-present for Thomas Tuchel’s Bayern this season but many believe he has his heart set on the Bernabeu.

READ: An XI of ex-MLS players thriving in Europe: Davies, Almiron, Harrison…

David de Gea

Eight years after that faulty fax machine scuppered a move back to the Spanish capital, Los Blancos had a free run at De Gea’s signature once again.

The goalkeeper penned an emotional goodbye letter in early July after 12 years of service and over 500 appearances for Manchester United.

It’s said that De Gea was a prime candidate to arrive on a short-term deal after their No.1 Thibaut Courtois suffered an anterior cruciate ligament in early August, which will keep the Belgian out until well into 2024.

Madrid ended up signing Kepa Arrizabalaga on loan from Chelsea instead, while De Gea remains a free agent. Spanish outlet Marca report that the 33-year-old is in talks to join Segunda outfit Eldense, but we’ll believe it when we see it.


With or without you? Ancelotti chose without. Sorry.

The Moroccan was another name on Madrid’s shortlist to deputise for the injured Courtois. He shone as Sevilla won the Europa League last term but was heavily rotated with Marko Dmitrovic and was seen as expendable by the club’s hierarchy.

And Sevilla did indeed sell Bono. Saudi Pro League outfit Al Hilal bought the ‘keeper for €21million in mid-August. They’re top of the league, and he plays alongside the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly, Ruben Neves, Neymar and Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Rayan Cherki

Somewhat spurious reports from Spain suggested that Real Madrid had a verbal agreement to sign the French wonderkid, who only turned 20 in the summer but already has over 100 games under his belt for boyhood club Lyon.

The expert dribbler has struggled for consistency under Fabio Grosso this season. Lyon have been something of a mess and currently find themselves bottom of Ligue 1, five points adrift of safety.

If the unthinkable happens and Lyon go down, there’ll be almighty competition for Cherki’s signature at the end of the season.

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