Thursday turned out to be a nice day for Atlético Madrid and its supporters. A rotated team secured progression to the last 16 of the Copa del Rey (the draw is tomorrow morning) and it appears now Diego Simeone has his Tiago Mendes replacement.
According to normally-reliable Cadena COPE and its El Partidos de las 12 program, Celta Vigo midfielder Augusto Fernández will have a medical and sign for Atlético over the Christmas break. Earlier today, Robbie wrote on an AS article reporting that Atleti had submitted an official bid for the 29-year-old - two days after Marca ran a story stating that Simeone had made Augusto his #1 target.
Augusto proved attractive to Atlético on three fronts: his similarity to Tiago, his familiarity with Simeone and his price. He's not quite the crafty, long ball-pinging metronome the Portuguese is, but he is a tough tackler who will sit deeper in midfield with Gabi, play the ball out capably and allow Koke and/or Saúl to spring forward more comfortably.
Simeone knows Augusto well from his days at River Plate in Argentina; the duo won the Torneo Clausura together in 2008. He then moved to Saint-Étienne for the 2009-10 season before returning to Argentina to play for Vélez Sársfield (where he won another Clausura). Celta purchased him in August 2012. Simeone's prior knowledge of Augusto and his capabilities undoubtedly contributed to his insistence that the club green-light his signing.
The club will also be happy that Augusto comes with a nifty €6 million price tag. I discussed as recently as Wednesday the possibility that Atlético could move forward with in-form Saúl, Thomas Partey and Matíás Kranevitter. The only characteristic that would push through a sale would be Simeone's desire for a more experienced player - even better, one costing less €10 million.
Augusto ticks all three boxes, and that is why his transfer was prioritized in spite of the current nine-game winning streak. The team is competing on three fronts and depth is essential if fitness begins to fade in the spring months - a phenomenon Atlético know well from the past two seasons. In the meantime, don't hold your breath waiting for an official announcement; the window doesn't open for three more weeks.