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Seeking a transfer or a lucrative new deal: What next for Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos?

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Huge news coming out of the Bernabeu

Sergio Ramos is a man who's never far away from the headlines and over the weekend he certainly grabbed the majority of them in Spain, Europe and China.

Rumours surfaced that the Real Madrid skipper had told club officials that he wanted a transfer away from the Spanish capital, rumoured to be seeking a free transfer to the Chinese Super League.

The 33 year-old has made over 600 appearances for Los Blancos since joining from Sevilla back in 2005, where he's established himself as one of the best and most successful defenders of all time. He's regularly been linked with moves away from the club over the last few years, which have often sufficed in bumper new contracts. But with him at the age of 33 and off the back of one Real's worst seasons in their modern history, could he actually be set to leave this time?

His relationship has deteriorated with the club as the campaign has progressed, mainly with club president Florentino Perez. Quotes coming from the Ramos camp indicate that he wants a 'total divorce' from the club. He's growing disillusioned at the Bernabeu for a number of reasons, with the main one believed to be Perez insinuating that he's to blame for their shock Champions League exit at the hands of Ajax.

In the closing stages of their 2-1 first leg victory in Amsterdam, Ramos was shown a needless yellow card which resulted in him being suspended for the second leg in Spain. Real went onto to lose 4-1 on home soil, stunning their supporters, the rest of Europe and Ramos who watched on from his private box. It's a defeat that still hurts and Perez is evidently still not over it if Ramos' comments are believed to be true.

This is a huge summer for Real Madrid for a number of reasons and losing their captain and arguably their most influential player is not a good place to star their planning for next season. But is it all just a ploy to get a big new contract or is he actually wanting to leave?

Correlating stories resulting in worrying news for Madridistas

News of Ramos' discontent originally broke over the weekend and Real Madrid chief has since backed it up, confirming that Ramos has indeed signalled his intent to leave the club.

"They (Ramos and his advisors) came to see me in my office. They mentioned that he might leave but without a transfer fee because transfer fees in China are very complicated."

"I told him that he can't leave and that we would be speaking to the Chinese club interested in signing him. It's impossible to let your captain leave for free, that would be setting a bad precedent."

We completely get where Perez is coming from. Losing your captain is something that pretty much every club wants to avoid, but lose someone as talented and experienced as Ramos is a completely different matter. He's a massive influence at Real Madrid and we saw just how important he was during Ajax's demolition job at the Bernabeu in the Champions League when he was suspended.

Sergio Ramos Real Madrid
Sergio Ramos has played an instrumental part in Real Madrid's 4 recent Champions League titles, but the apparent blame on his shoulders for last seasons shock exit by Florentino Perez has made him unhappy in Spain

Real have secured the signature of the highly rated Eder Militao from FC Porto who looks like an excellent prospect, but he would have enormous boots to fill if he had to replace Ramos, so it's going to be interesting to see how this story develops. Perez needs to handle this situation with care but it appears that his relationship with his captain is beyond repair.

Keeping any player at a football club against their will can often have a negative impact on the dressing room, so imagine the effect that the Ramos saga could have on Real Madrid. Their farcical 2018/19 campaign needs to be put in the past and they're expected to be active in the transfer market with Eden Hazard and Paul Pogba rumoured on their shopping list. They need to move forward and keeping an unhappy player with the power that Ramos has isn't the way to do it.

A move to China on the cards?

This isn't the first time that Ramos has reportedly asked to leave Real Madrid. Back in 2015 there was various rumours surrounding a move to Manchester United, back in the Louis van Gaal days. The Dutchman is said to have launched a £28.6m bid for the defender after hearing about his discontent, only for him to then go on and sign a mega new six-year deal, which expires in the summer of 2021 when he'll be 35.

But this time things seem different. Real Madrid are in a much different state to that of 2015 and his relationship with the clubs hierarchy makes it look like he is indeed ready for a new challenge. He's won everything there is to win in Madrid so you'd expect him to depart a legend, but the way that the Madridistas are with their players there's chance it could end badly. Perez hasn't been afraid to reveal to the pubic what Ramos has said so he's clearly trying to make him look like the bad guy in this, despite the tremendous service he's given to the club.

Perez claimed that Ramos said he wanted a move to China and the CSL dominates the betting when it comes to a potential transfer, with a move to any Chinese Super League club available at 6/4 with SkyBet. He's won pretty much everything on offer in Europe so it makes sense to test himself in another continent, especially one as financially lucrative as the CSL.

Sergio Ramos Real Madrid
Tempting Sergio Ramos to the Chinese Super League would be a massive statement of intent

Several high profile players such as Carlos Tevez, Marek Hamsik, Oscar, Hulk and Didier Drogba have played there over the last few years, but if one of the clubs was to tempt Ramos over to Asia it would surely be the biggest coup of them all. Chinese clubs have the finances to meet Ramos' huge wage demands but one potential stumbling point is the transfer fee, which can get massively out of hand.

In a bid to limit the number of foreign stars in the CSL and boost the development homegrown players, the China Football Association launched a tax on players bought from abroad. Clubs will have to pay a massive 100% tax on the price of their foreign stars, meaning that transfer fees can reach massive levels. The money paid in this tax goes into a player development fund to help grow the game at grassroots level.

So if Ramos is to go to China, he's going to have to sweet talk Perez into letting him leave on a free which looks incredibly unlikely to happen. And despite being 33, Real would demand a big fee for his services, which would severely damage the accounts of interested CSL clubs.

What next?

With this happening right at the start of the window there's plenty of opportunities for this story to develop. Perez and the club are clearly keen to keep their captain, or at least get a fee for his services.

But the noises coming out of the Ramos camp appear to indicate that he's finally ready to move on and if he can't go to China on a free, then it opens up the door for other potential suitors. Just behind the CSL clubs are Juventus at 4/1 (SkyBet) where he'd link up with former Real teammates Sami Khedira and Cristiano Ronaldo. Whilst Manchester United are available at 5/1 (SkyBet) to re-kindle their interest in him, with them in desperate need of defensive re-enforcements.

Cristiano Ronaldo Sergio Ramos
Ramos is available at 4/1 to link up with former Real teammate Cristiano Ronaldo in Turin

It's going to be interesting to see how this develops. If Perez can somehow resurrect his relationship with Ramos then he could end up staying. Especially if the club are as active in the transfer market as they're expected to be. But last years shambolic campaign is clearly still fresh in the memory of the 33 year-old, along with that Champions League exit and it appears that this could well be the end.

606 appearances, 84 goals, 20 trophies. The numbers make staggering reading for Ramos' time at the Bernabeu and they have some job on their hands to replace him if he does indeed depart.