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Coronavirus: Real Madrid moves for Pogba, Martinez on hold - sources

Julien Laurens outlines whether Dortmund's Erling Haaland might be a key target for Real Madrid in the summer.
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Real Madrid have put their summer transfer plans on hold -- leaving possible moves for Paul Pogba or Lautaro Martinez up in the air -- with uncertainty over the financial impact of the coronavirus, sources have told ESPN.

The full effect of COVID-19 on the club's income, with La Liga suspended indefinitely and a state of emergency declared in Spain until at least 11th April, is yet to become clear.

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Sources have told ESPN that Real Madrid's squad building plans for next season have been paused until they have a better idea of when the 2019-20 season could restart and be completed, if at all.

Central midfield has been a priority, with manager Zinedine Zidane a long-term admirer of Pogba, and the French coach continues to argue in favour of his signing.

However the position of senior figures at the club -- including president Florentino Perez -- has not changed since last summer, when they decided that Pogba was too expensive.

Even with his contract expiring in 2021, ESPN has been told that Manchester United still value Pogba at over €100 million, and Madrid would not be willing to go that far, given other transfer targets.

The club, like many others in world football, are seeing the coronavirus outbreak affect various income streams, from matchday revenue to club shops and the Bernabeu stadium tour.

Another factor is the feasibility of a summer overseas tour, which has in previous years been a significant source of income for the club.

ESPN has spoken to the agents of multiple Real Madrid targets in recent days, all of whom acknowledge that no progress is being made and that they are waiting for the club to make the next move.

Other top European clubs are in a similar position, and ESPN reported earlier this month that Barcelona have also put planning on hold for the time being.

For Madrid, Napoli's Fabian Ruiz remains the primary midfield alternative to Pogba after a meeting with his representatives last November, while Ajax's Donny van de Beek was close to joining in 2019.

A more pressing need is the signing of a centre-forward to provide competition for Karim Benzema after the failure of Luka Jovic to impress this season.

Martinez would be Madrid's preferred choice as ESPN reported last month, and has a €111m release clause in July, although there is competition from Barcelona and the Premier League.

Decisions must also be taken about the futures of Martin Odegaard -- who has exceeded expectations at Real Sociedad -- and Achraf Hakimi, who has spent the last two years at Borussia Dortmund, as well as a number of other promising young players out on loan.

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