The Portuguese boss has been working alongside director of football Jose Angel Sanchez in recent weeks with a view to strengthening the squad for next season, especially since both are aware prices for the top players could rise significantly if they excel at Euro 2012 this summer. Of particular concern is the right-back spot, where a number of options have been tried this season following the re-conversion of Sergio Ramos to a central defensive role.
Players that could be on their way out of Madrid include: Ricardo Carvalho, Raul Albiol, Lassana Diarra, Hamit Altintop, Nuri Sahin, Kaka, Gonzalo Higuain and reserve goalkeeper Antonio Adan.
In Sahin’s case Los Blancos would prefer to send him out on loan but Kaka, Higuain and Adan are likely to be shown the exit door as all three might find it difficult to break into the starting line-up next term, despite their undoubted quality. Carvalho and Albiol, meanwhile, seem certain to be jettisoned while Diarra may be allowed to leave as it is understood his negative attitude in recent months has not endeared him to Mourinho. Altintop is another who could find himself surplus to requirements after hardly figuring this campaign.
Mourinho is thought to be seeking a top-class back-up to No 1 Iker Casillas and is keen on Atletico Madrid youngster Thibaut Courtois, who has excelled at the Vicente Calderon this season after being snapped up on loan from Chelsea, and is also keeping tabs on Courtois’ Belgian international teammate Axel Witsel. The 23-year-old has earned rave reviews for Benfica since his move from Standard Liege last summer and Mourinho is prepared to offer cash plus reserve team winger Jese in order to lower the €40m rescission clause in the player’s contract.
In defence Dutch international right-back Gregory van der Wiel could also come under consideration, despite interest from Valencia, as well as Athletic Bilbao’s right-hand sided defender Andoni Iraola. There is also interest in Milan’s Thiago Silva, although it is doubtful the Italians would be prepared to do business and Napoli’s 23-year-old Argentine international Federico Fernandez may well be a better option.
Midfield targets are thought to include Sao Paulo’s Lucas Moura (for whom an offer of €30m is understood to have already been made) and Athletic Bilbao’s €40m-rated Javi Martinez, with Rennes’ Yann M’Vila also on the radar.
In attack there could be a push for Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero if Higuain departs and Edin Dzeko, Aguero’s fellow frontman at the Etihad Stadium, could also be in the frame as well as Athletic’s Spanish international Fernando Llorente, although the latter’s €60m rescission clause could scupper any deal if Bilbao hold out for that figure.