Modric future in doubt as Real Madrid turn to Witsel

By IndepthAfrica
In Soccer
Jul 30th, 2012

Real Madrid’s €45million (Dh202m) move for Tottenham playmaker Luka Modric has been thrown in doubt amid claims the Spanish champions have turned their attentions to Benfica’s Axel Witsel.

Dinamo Zagreb president Zoran Mamic had said on Sunday that he expected Modric’s protracted move to Madrid to be announced today.

Modric, 26, who played for Zagreb between 2003 and 2008, has been pursued by Madrid throughout the summer and recently failed to report for pre-season training with Spurs in an attempt to force through a move.

After initially offering defender Ricardo Carvalho and midfielder Nuri Sahin as makeweights, both rejected by Andre Villas-Boas, the Spanish champions Madrid were understood to have finally agreed a deal

Mamic, in an interview with Croatian newspaper Sportske, confirmed the deal has been done and his club will receive €3.2million of the fee.

However, A Bola newspaper have reported that Madrid have opened talks about a move for Belgian international Witsel, who has been linked with Manchester United in recent days.

The 23-year-old enjoyed an impressive debut season in Portugal following his move from Standard Liege 12 months ago and was a standout for Benfica during their Champions League campaign.

United’s rivals Manchester City are also said to have been keeping a close eye on Witsel with first-team coach David Platt spotted at the Estadio da Luz last season running the rule over the midfielder.

Benfica president Luis Felipe Vieira admitted last week he was aware of interest in Witsel but reiterated they would not let him leave for anything less than his €40million buy-out.

A Bola claims that Madrid are willing to match that fee and that negotiations are “well advanced”, placing the future of Modric in doubt as he had looked set to seal a switch to the Bernabeu.

Witsel, who impressed during Benfica’s 5-2 win over Madrid in a pre-season friendly last Friday, made 48 appearances for Benfica last season, scoring five goals.

Should he complete a move to Madrid he would become the third player to make the switch in two years after Angel Di Maria joined from Benfica in 2011 to then be followed by Fabio Coentrao last year.

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