Randal Kolo Muani, Romelu Lukaku and the strikers Real Madrid should target as hopes of signing Kylian Mbappe ended for second straight summer

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With Mbappe set to stay at Paris Saint-Germain for at least one more year, Real Madrid may have to look elsewhere

It wasn't supposed to be like this for Real Madrid; they were going to wait patiently for Kylian Mbappe to be exiled this summer, readying themselves for a last-minute bid, coaxing the France captain to the Santiago Bernabeu at a cut price. Mbappe, they assumed, would diligently wait for his long-anticipated Madrid move.

Instead, the striker has tentatively agreed to stay in Paris for at least one more year. The specifics of his deal are clouded, but it seems that the winger will make some kind of concession in order to stick around — and ensure that PSG will get an agreeable fee for him when he inevitably leaves next summer. This is a very kind thing for a player who has spent six years holding his club hostage.

Meanwhile, Madrid are left with a conundrum. Although they scored twice against Athletic Club to open their season, chances came at a premium. They were, as perhaps expected, worryingly lacking a central striking presence. It always figured that Mbappe would fill that void for the 2023-24 season. But now, Madrid are left with 33-year-old Joselu as their sole striking option — which hardly inspires confidence for a side hoping to compete for the league title.

So, Madrid might have to make a foray into the transfer market. And who to get? It's a suddenly dwindling talent pool, with some of the big names already making moves. Still, there are some options out there. GOAL takes a look at who Madrid might be able to sign with Mbappe out of the question...

  1. Randal Kolo Muani (Frankfurt)
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    Randal Kolo Muani (Frankfurt)

    This would be an interesting acquisition on multiple levels. First of all, Randal Kolo Muani would give Madrid some much-needed versatility in attack. He is not exactly one to drop deep like a certain Karim Benzema, but he's a reliable enough link-up player and passer to serve as a focal point. Furthermore, his experience playing alongside Mbappe for France's national team has ensured he can work effectively with pacey forwards who like to get in behind — something Vinicius Jr could benefit from. Add his 15 goals in the Bundesliga last year, and you have a well-rounded forward.

    The added bonus here is Kolo Muani has been one of PSG's main targets for some time now. The Parisians were expected to sign him this summer, but elected to bring in Gonaclo Ramos instead. There could still be room for him at Parc des Princes — Mbappe might insist on it — but he doesn't seem like a surefire addition anymore. The transfer market can be a petty thing, especially for Madrid. They might just take some satisfaction in stealing PSG's top target.

  2. Romelu Lukaku (Inter)

    Romelu Lukaku (Inter)

    Romelu Lukaku could've sorted his next club by now. Inter seemed ready to negotiate with Chelsea for the striker, but he entered personal negotiations with Juventus when he was on the verge of sealing a move to his former club — something that didn't sit well with any of the parties involved. That move has failed to materialise as of yet, with Chelsea's €50 million (£43m/$55m) asking price proving too high for the Bianconeri.

    It leaves room for Madrid to swoop in. Los Blancos were briefly linked with the Belgian earlier in the summer, including him on their shortlist to replace Benzema. And with other suitors dwindling — rumours of a Tottenham switch have been quashed — there's certainly an opportunity here.

    He might be something of an awkward fit, though. Lukaku isn't the playmaking forward that Madrid covet and typically functions more effectively in a two-striker system. Asking him to play with his back to goal would be an immense waste of his talent. Still, some Carlo Ancelotti magic could be worked here.

  3. Dusan Vlahovic (Juventus)
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    Dusan Vlahovic (Juventus)

    Dusan Vlahovic has never quite worked out at Juventus. The Serbian sealed a €70m (£61m/$75m) move from Fiorentina back in January 2022, and has only scored 17 goals in 42 games since then. But there's clearly a player in there.

    It seems strange, in that sense, to suggest that a 23-year-old needs a change of scenery to start banging them in. In this case, though, it might just be true. Vlahovic is an ideal central striker at his best, and feasts inside the box. With Vinicius and Rodyrgo either side of him creating chance after chance, he could thrive.

    Price might be an issue, though. Juventus repeatedly rebuffed Chelsea in player-plus-cash talks over Lukaku, and will look to recoup a hefty chunk of their investment — if they do indeed elect to let him go at all. Their economic situation may necessitate his exit.

  4. Victor Osimhen (Napoli)

    Victor Osimhen (Napoli)

    Victor Osimhen was arguably the best striker in Europe last year, leading the line for a Napoli side that battered its way to Serie A and captured a historic Scudetto. The Nigerian striker scored 26 goals in the league and added a further five in the Champions League. Add the fact that he is still only 23 — and poised to improve — and this would be incredibly difficult to make happen.

    But it would also be a dream addition. Osimhen became a more well-rounded attacking presence last season, serving as a valuable playmaker, and combining effectively with Napoli's pacy wide players. Kvara Kvaratskhelia may have grabbed the headlines, but Osimhen's five assists are nothing to be sniffed at. It all amounts to a player Madrid would love to have. Whether they can afford him, though, is an entirely different question. Consider it unlikely - especially as he is finally about to sign a new contract.

  5. Anthony Martial (Manchester United)

    Anthony Martial (Manchester United)

    Here's a player who might be far more easily attainable. After bringing in Rasmus Hojlund, Manchester United are probably willing to get rid of Anthony Martial, who has become surplus to requirements at Old Trafford. The Frenchman was loaned out in spring 2022, appeared sparingly last season, and doesn't appear to have done enough to suggest he can work his way back into the team.

    He's an odd player, and, despite being 27, still hasn't found his best position. For long periods, he impressed coming off the left, but he has been misused through the middle in the past. But that doesn't mean he can't adjust. Madrid like to play on the break, and Martial certainly has the legs to eat up ground with their pacy frontline. And if Los Blancos switch things up, and opt for a more fluid front three, Martial could certainly do a job — should his fitness issues not crop up again.

    There's also the benefit of price here. The Red Devils signed him for an eye-watering £58m ($72m) in 2015, but with one year left on his contract, they will be lucky to get half of that back. Ancelotti does love a reclamation project...

  6. Benjamin Sesko (RB Leipzig)
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    Benjamin Sesko (RB Leipzig)

    Madrid have shown interest in Sesko in the past and were among the potential suitors when he was put up for sale by Red Bull Salzburg in July 2022. However, the striker chose to sign for Leipzig, before being loaned back to Austria for a year before arriving in the Bundesliga. It seems that the extra year for Salzburg was as beneficial as expected. He scored 16 goals, and added four assists, while claiming a third-straight Bundesliga win.

    And now, he appears ready for a step up in level. Leipzig, admittedly, would see no sense in selling a player that they will likely make good use of for two years before flipping to a top club in need of a striker. But Madrid could take a risk and cut that corner early. Sesko certainly has the potential to be a top-class attacking threat, and if playing time is guaranteed in the Spanish capital, there is some sense in him making a move.