Real Madrid should be targeting Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling over Chelsea star Eden Hazard, says former England striker Chris Sutton.
The Blancos are reported to be casting admiring glances in the direction of the Premier League as they piece together plans for an elaborate summer recruitment drive.
With Zinedine Zidane back at the helm, those at the Santiago Bernabeu are expected to spend big in the next transfer window.
Belgium international Hazard has long been linked with a switch to Spain and has hinted at making a move in the recent past.
Sutton, though, believes Madrid need to be turning their sights to Manchester, with Sterling having shown this season – with 25 goals for club and country – that he is now part of the global elite.
The ex-England frontman told the Daily Mail after seeing the in-form winger add to his hat-trick against the Czech Republic by netting again in a 5-1 Euro 2020 qualification win over Montenegro : “You have to say that Raheem Sterling is now world class.
“If you were Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane, surely you would want to buy him over Eden Hazard?
“Is there anything Sterling cannot do? His weight of pass is superb, his movement off the ball is lethal and he has become deadly in front of goal.
“What defender in the world would want to face Sterling in this form? It doesn’t matter if you take him on or back off — either way he will destroy you.
“He is still just 24 and improving year on year. His wonderful performances for England in the last two games have confirmed that he can thrive on the international stage.
“Sterling is one of the hottest properties in world football. If I was Real Madrid, I’d be making him my No. 1 target.”
City tied Sterling to fresh terms back in November, with a new contract set to keep him at the Etihad Stadium until 2023 .
There is little chance of Pep Guardiola agreeing to part with a player that he has helped to thrive , with the 24-year-old proving to be a key figure in an ongoing quadruple bid by the Blues.