Sergio Ramos is one again embroiled in a contract standoff with Real Madrid, the influential club captain having entered the final months of his deal and yet to put pen to paper on an extension.
We have, of course, been down this road before with Ramos having previously threatened an exit before signing a new contract, the club having twice before relented to his demands amid fears their iconic captain would depart the Bernabeu.
However, with Ramos now 34-years-old it remains to be seen just how desperate the Spanish giants are to maintain his services with the centre-back undoubtedly approaching the end of a glittering career.
The most capped player in European football history is understood to be demanding a two-year deal, though Real are currently unwilling to move away from their policy of offering players over 30 just one-year extensions.
Should an agreement not be reached a host of Europe’s leading clubs will be interested in signing a player many consider to be the finest defender of his generation.
So for those of you who like to follow the odds with the best bookmaker’s like boylesports.com, we look at how the bookmakers view the race to sign Sergio Ramos.
Manchester United – 14/1
It wasn’t all that long ago that Ramos reportedly informed Real Madrid of his desire to leave for Manchester United, and almost six years on the Premier League side are again ranked amongst the favourites to secure his signing.
Ramos’ previous flirtation with the Red Devils ultimately turned out to be a way of squeezing a better deal from the Real Madrid hierarchy, though a move to the Premier League may tempt the veteran if he is to embark on one final challenge.
United have made progress under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season and currently lead the Premier League title race, though questions remain over their defensive strength with a number of unconvincing options at centre-back.
The world-record signing of Harry Maguire has improved the backline without being transformative, whilst Victor Lindelof does not appear a long-term solution as the England international’s partner and Eric Bailly’s injury problems are well-documented.
Manchester United are open to the idea of signing Sergio Ramos when his Real Madrid contract expires this summer, according to Calciomercato 🆓 pic.twitter.com/ivkLIiqsG3
— Goal (@goal) January 12, 2021
The signing of Ramos – whilst short-term – would provide a high-quality partner for Maguire and United are amongst the few clubs in world football capable of affording the Spaniard’s wage demands.
United will have taken note of how Thiago Silva has impacted an emerging Chelsea side and the addition of a proven winner in Ramos could have a similar impact at Old Trafford.
Tottenham – 12/1
Regarded as 12/1 outsiders for the signing of Ramos are Tottenham, in a deal which would see the centre-back reunite with former Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho in north London.
The duo enjoyed a successful period together in the Spanish capital and won the La Liga title in 2011/12, and despite reports of a fractured relationship between the pair there could be a temptation from both player and manager to make a deal.
Mourinho has attempted to mould Spurs into his own style this season and there have been signs of improvement, the summer arrival of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg adding steel and a winning mentality to the north London side.
Ramos would represent a huge statement of intent and add further character to a side that, whilst talented, has struggled to make the step up to winning silverware under the previous regime.
Centre-back depth is also required despite the promising partnership between Toby Alderweireld and Eric Dier, with Davinson Sanchez remaining unconvincing and summer signing Joe Rodon inexperienced at the highest level.
Chelsea – 12/1
Chelsea spent lavishly during the summer and reports have suggested Roman Abramovich is prepared to continue investing in the west London side, with the Blues regarded as 12/1 odds to secure the signing of Ramos this summer.
Frank Lampard currently has five senior centre-back options at his disposal but doubts remain over the long-term futures of Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori, the latter expected to leave on loan this month in a bid to secure first-team football.
Thiago Silva arrived during the summer and has impressed, though the veteran will turn 37-years-old later this year and there has yet been no confirmation over whether his deal will be extended beyond the end of the current campaign.
The signing of Ramos could provide Chelsea with another experienced option as they bid to bridge the gap to the best sides in both England and Europe, whilst the prospect of life in London could appeal to the defender should he decide on a venture away from Spain.
There has been interest from Chelsea in previous years though this one appears unlikely with the club’s focus expected to be elsewhere, however, stranger things have happened.
Manchester City – 11/1
Pep Guardiola spent four seasons in direct competition with a Ramos-led Real Madrid during his hugely successful time in Barcelona, and whilst the rivalry was fierce it has not stopped the defender winning his compatriots admiration.
So much so that Manchester City are regarded as 11/1 second favourites to secure his signing, in a move that would add experience and quality to the backline of the Etihad outfit.
City’s wealthy ownership means that wages are unlikely to provide a stumbling block should there be genuine interest from Manchester, though the club’s defensive improvement this season raises questions over whether there is a need for the high-profile capture.
John Stones has enjoyed an excellent renaissance this season alongside impressive summer signing Ruben Dias, whilst Aymeric Laporte remains one of the division’s best defenders and Nathan Ake provides further cover.
That said, Ramos would bring much-needed experience on football’s biggest stage having lifted the Champions League on four occasions with Real Madrid, and Guardiola may view the defender as a character who can help his side finally land club football’s most illustrious prize.
Juventus – 8/1
Juventus, for many years, have been known as the kings of the Bosman signings, their list of free transfer acquisitions including notable names such as Paul Pogba, Andrea Pirlo and Sami Khedira.
It, therefore, comes as little surprise to see the Italian side regarded as 8/1 favourites for one of this summer’s most high-profile free agents, with Juventus another side seeking additions that can help them take the final step in securing Champions League success.
Ramos could reunite with Cristiano Ronaldo in Turin with the duo having won four Champions League trophies together at Real Madrid, the possibility of playing alongside the Portuguese superstar once more likely to appeal to the Spain captain.
Ramos may be 34-years-old but he is an athlete in peak condition and remains amongst the best defenders on the continent, and the Bianconeri are likely to be monitoring developments closely ahead of a potential contract offer.
The smart money perhaps remains on Ramos renewing in Madrid, but Juventus are undoubtedly an attractive destination should he finally call time on his Bernabeu career.