Atletico Madrid suffered horrific news on Sunday night as word trickled through the media that their midfield anchor, Tiago Mendes, would be out for up to five months with a broken leg. The Portuguese midfielder was having one of the best seasons of his career and offered priceless protection to Atletico's back four along with the services of his range of passing. Not an easy thing to replace, for sure, but Diego Simeone did not rule out a move for a defensive midfielder in January.
He told reporters ahead of Atletico's trip to play Deportiu Reus in the Copa del Rey, "Obviously, it is difficult to find another Tiago, because at 34 he offers a certain capacity and experience that a boy of 20, 26 or 27 can not offer. I am convinced that he will return before the end of the season because we need it."
He continued, "when the winter market comes around, we are open to any situation. This time is no exception."
A player linked with Atletico, according to Marca, is Monaco's Jeremy Toulalan. The 32 year old French defensive midfielder has played 10 times for his club side this season and created one assist. Toulalan would be cheap and might be keen on a move given Atletico's involvement in the Champions League. He played in La Liga 44 times with Malaga from 2011 until 2013 when he moved back to France to play with Monaco.
Another player linked with a winter move to the Calderon is Celta Vigo's 29 year old midfielder Augusto Fernandez. Fernandez is the captain of Celta Vigo and has a contract until 2019, which might result in an inflated price but given the Argentinian's ties to River Plate, a team Simeone managed in 2007, a transfer might be possible. He could also offer advise to Mattias Kranevitter, who arrives in January from the same club.
The Lazio captain has emerged as another candidate to replace the injured Tiago. A slightly more expensive option but at 29 and a native of Argentina, Simeone might be inclined to splash the cash to ensure his signature. He has a contract with Lazio until 2018 but has been linked with a move to Inter Milan and Manchester United most recently.
Given the age of the replacements mentioned, it would most likely be a stop-gap solution with the imminent arrival of Kranevitter. Either Toulalan or Fernandez would have to suffice with a place on the bench with the possibility of game-time should the Argentine not adapt to life as early as Simeone and Atletico might like.