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What Real Madrid need in the January transfer window

18:00 GMT+3 31/12/2019
Paul Pogba Manchester United Real Madrid GFX
Zinedine Zidane's side have shown improvement as the season has gone on, but that does not mean they will not be active in the market next month

Real Madrid are enjoying a run of good form and, consequently, are challenging Barcelona for La Liga for the first time since 2017.

They may look to build on that by providing coach Zinedine Zidane with reinforcements in January, although one of the big problem areas the club appeared to have – the midfield – has been seemingly solved by Fede Valverde’s explosion.

However, president Florentino Perez may still want to add heavy artillery to a side which still has not adequately replaced all-time top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, who left for Juventus in the summer of 2018.

Despite Karim Benzema's fine form, Madrid have lacked goals this season, with only one in the last three games, after drawing 0-0 twice in a row in the top flight for the first time since 2006.

Real Madrid's likely January transfer signings

Zidane got one of his two big targets in the summer, with Eden Hazard arriving from Chelsea after a decade-long flirtation, but Madrid didn't land the other name on the Frenchman's wish-list, Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba.

The 2018 World Cup winner has barely featured in the Premier League this season because of injury and would jump at the chance to belatedly leave Old Trafford in January, having seen his hopes of departing during the summer in search of a new "challenge" dashed.

United are improving under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but there is no guarantee that the Norwegian will secure a return to the Champions League at the end of the season and Pogba craves the game's grandest stages. They don't come much bigger than the Santiago Bernabeu.

The France international arrival would give Madrid’s midfield a much greater goal threat, with his passing range certain to create more opportunities for Benzema and his fellow forwards.

The aforementioned Valverde, meanwhile, has made an excellent impact and the 21-year-old's box-to-box skill-set would dovetail well with Pogba’s quality on the ball.

Madrid are famed for being a team of superstars and while they have undoubtedly moved away from the ‘Galacticos’ recruitment plan of years gone by, the would be tempted by Pogba should he be made available for a reasonable price. Certainly, a deal would appear to suit everyone involved.

Elsewhere, Hazard’s return from injury should provide Madrid with the kind of creativity and penetration they have so often lacked this term, meaning Zidane will not push for another attacker to be signed in January.

Real Madrid's likely January transfer exits

Madrid are unlikely to let anyone go in January. Injuries to Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez mean that they need to keep their other wide forwards.

Gareth Bale has ridden the wave of anger which came his way after the infamous flag stunt with Wales, and was even applauded onto the field against Athletic as Madrid looked for a winner.

If there are to be departures, they will likely come from the midfield. Indeed, one of the two underused playmakers, James Rodriguez and Isco, may move on.

The Spaniard, though, has played a more prominent role in recent weeks, so the Colombian is the more likely to depart, although Chelsea have been linked to Isco.

James will have some suitors after finding fitness again and would be no great loss, given how little game time he's seen this season, and his exit would significantly reduce Madrid's wage bill.

Elsewhere, Luka Modric is no longer an essential part of the midfield and his contract expires in the summer, but he is expected to see out the season.

How Real Madrid could line up after the transfer window

Madrid have steadily improved as the season has gone on and were unlucky not to beat Barcelona at Camp Nou just before the winter break.

Consequently, no major surgery is expected on a side that looks solid if unspectacular without the injured Hazard.

Pogba would undoubtedly inject some dynamism into the midfield. As United fans know, when he's fully motivated, the World Cup winner is a formidable presence in the engine room and he would clearly love to work with Zidane.

One would also imagine that the talented but positionally limited Pogba would thrive in a midfield where Casemiro takes care of most of the dirty work.

Elsewhere, if Hazard and Bale are fully fit, they will chip in with their fair share goals, as well as creating plenty for the on-song Benzema.

The back four is as settled as they come and they have been buoyed by the fact that Courtois is finally starting to come good after taking a surprisingly long time to feel at home again in the Spanish capital.