Future Blues emerge from red mist of Madrid

Posted by ESPN Staff

The Atletico bench appears for Cristiano Ronaldo to be sent off for his challenge on GabiGettyImagesWith Chelsea waiting in the wings, could a red card in the Copa del Rey be Ronaldo's last meaningful action at Madrid.

Jose Mourinho hasn't even finalised his reported move back to Chelsea yet but he is already dominating the backpages with the Daily Mail claiming that the Real Madrid coach wants Cristiano Ronaldo to swap the Bernabeu for Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho and Ronaldo have formed a successful working partnership at Madrid (despite both being sent-off in the Copa del Rey final defeat against Atletico Madrid) and the 50-year-old has targeted his countryman as the perfect catalyst to send Chelsea back to the top of the Premier League.

But there are two significant hurdles standing in Mourinho's way: Ronaldo's £80 million price-tag and Manchester United.

United have long been linked to a move for their former player, especially after the 28-year-old admitted to being in favour of a return to Old Trafford.

If Mourinho does miss out on Ronaldo, he has United's Wayne Rooney and Napoli striker Edinson Cavani on his back-up list.

Talking of strikers, West Ham could be about to lose not one, but two of their attacking force after The Sun revealed Andy Carroll and Carlton Cole could be on their way out of the club.

On-loan Liverpool man Carroll has been a hit since joining the Hammers but boss Sam Allardyce is finding it hard to raise the £17 million needed to make the move permanent.

The club is expected to make a £10 million offer for the England international, but the Reds are likely to hold out for an offer closely matching their evaluation. Meanwhile, Cole, 29, will be a free agent after the Hammers decided not to offer him a new contract.

Allardyce has replacements lined up though, and remains in the race to sign Ivory Coast striker Wilfried Bony and has looked at bringing in Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku on loan next season.

On the goalkeeping front, Liverpool custodian Pepe Reina is inching closer to a return to Barcelona.

According to the Mirror, the Spanish giants are consigned to losing number one Victor Valdes at the end of the season and have made Reina the number one target.

Interestingly, Reina is not the only 'keeper on the Primera Division champion's mind, with the club rumoured to be after THREE new 'keepers in the off season.

Borussia Monchengladbach's rising star Marc-Andre ter Stegen is expected to offer Reina competition next season, while Villarreal youngster Adrian Ortola is one for the future.

And finally, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is expected to snap up Queens Park Rangers 'keeper Julio Cesar.

Wenger has long been on the lookout for an experienced custodian to challenge Wojciech Szczesny, and according to the Mirror, has found what he's looking for in Cesar.

The Brazilian is no longer wanted by relegated QPR and will be offloaded this summer. But Wenger has a few options to choose from including Stoke's Asmir Begovic, Hamburg's Rene Adler and Stuttgart's Sven Ulreich.

ESPN Conversations