These are gloomy days around the Santiago Bernabéu. After a disappointing La Liga season and exit at the hands of Leganes in the Copa del Rey, Real Madrid can only lift the Champions League if they're to prevent ending the campaign empty handed.
Though Real have often shown that nothing is impossible, it looks improbable that they will be able to win the European Cup for a third time in a row and debate in Spain has already turned to new signings and next season.
Diario Marca reported that the club has over €300m to improve the squad for the next term. The 'austerity' shown in the last transfer window, where the president Florentino Pérez has avoided major signings while selling players such as Alvaro Morata, James Rodríguez, Mesut Özil, Ángel Di María and Gonzalo Higuaín gives them cash and power to start a revolution.
The media in Spain have identified Neymar as the main target for the summer. According to sources coming from France, there is turmoil in Paris Saint Germain's dressing room and given that Real's attacking trio or Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema are suffering, it won't surprise anyone if Los Blancos try to sign the young and former Brazilian arch rival.
However, speaking on Saturday [27 January] former Real Sociedad and Romania international Gica Craioveanu surprised everyone by saying: "I have heard that Álvaro Odriozola has already signed for Real Madrid. His season is superb and his buy clause is very low in these days."
Newspapers in Spain have already notified that Odriozola was being lined up to replace Achraf Hakimi, whose mistake in the defeat to Leganes led to Real's exit from the Spanish Cup.
Alvaro Odriozola's buy-out clause is €40m. He cut his teeth in Europe just one year ago, but since then, he has made his debut with Spain's national team, and only injury will prevent him taking part in this summer's World Cup.
Given that Spain are one of the main candidates to lift the trophy and that he has been playing in Julen Lopetegi's team alongside Daniel Carvajal it seems natural that Real try to secure the player well in advance of the tournament. "People beg me: stay at Real Sociedad. But I always say that I have not already left!" said Odriozola some weeks ago.
According to OK Diario, Sociedad will negotiate and the transfer could be close to €25m, with the 12-time Champions League winners sending the likes of Marcos Llorente or Lucas Vázquez on loan to sweeten the deal.
The Basque club are suffering an awful season, teetering six points above the relegation zone in the 15th position in La Liga and out of the Copa del Rey after defeat to second division Lleida Esportiu.
Their manager Eusebio will be sacked if they do not beat Deportivo de la Coruña, and critics of the Sporting Director Lorenzo Juarros arose after he helped build a weak squad. Sociedad need money to regenerate an old squad which may be fighting against dropping into the second tier for just the seventh time in their history.
Odriozola aside, Diario Marca have pointed other players that Real could try to sign next summer include Robert Lewadoswki, Eden Hazard, Harry Kane and David De Gea.
In this era, just one of those players can max-out the above aforementioned €300m budget, meaning that the club would need to sell some of his stars if they want to accomplish their mission. Will this involve offloading much-questioned players such as Keylor Navas, Benzema, Bale and even Ronaldo? Time will tell. But what is beginning to appear crystal clear is that Real will play a central role in next summer's transfer window.