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Frivolous or For Real: Icardi, Vrsaljko, Nolito

Breaking down the most prominent Atleti rumors from the past week

Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Time now for another edition of Frivolous or For Real, where we look at a few of the most viral Atlético Madrid transfer rumors and analyze how rooted in reality they are. This week has a somewhat Italian flavor about it as Atlético are doing some shopping there...or are they?

Mauro Icardi

The skinny: Reports emanating from Argentina claim Atlético have lodged a bid for the Inter marksman, who is available for €45 million. Icardi has emerged as one of Europe's top young forwards; the 23-year-old has notched 38 goals in Serie A the past two seasons and is Inter's captain.

Verdict: Frivolous. Atleti's quest to bring back Diego Costa may be quixotic; asking Inter about Icardi is pointless. The Italians have maintained that the forward is not for sale and it would be stunning if the club's recent change of ownership altered that thinking.

Šime Vrsaljko

The skinny: The 24-year-old Sassuolo right back has received the backing of international teammate Ivan Rakitic should his move to Madrid materialize, and AS' Jorge Garcia reported that Vrsaljko has agreed already a four-year contract with Atlético. The contract also has an option for a fifth year and the Croatian will pocket around €2m per season. Technical director Andrea Berta is still working on striking a deal with Sassuolo.

Verdict: For Real. Vrsaljko has been linked consistently with a transfer to Atlético since the Champions League final ended. There is a sense that this deal will get done after EURO 2016; Diego Simeone appears to be pushing for it. Also, Napoli - the top competition for Vrsaljko's signature - have started to negotiate for Monaco right back Fabinho, clearing the way for Atleti to finalize Vrsaljko's transfer once Croatia's Euros run ends.


The skinny: Not the first time Nolito has been linked to Atlético. AS are behind this one, saying Atleti are ready to exploit a standoff between Barcelona and Celta Vigo over the player's €18m release clause - which Atleti are willing to pay. While the 29-year-old will have little to no sell-on value, his addition would give Simeone another pacy, dangerous winger to complement Yannick Carrasco and Nico Gaitán (who will be announced after Copa America).

Verdict: Frivolous. The relationship between Barça and Celta is not the best, but Sport insist that the two sides reached an agreement regarding Nolito's sale back in January. The Catalans are focused currently on revamping a thin (and apparently unhappy; see Mascherano, Javier) back line and will circle back to Nolito after the Euros or later in the summer. Personally, I doubt that that agreement exists under such favorable terms and Atlético are well within its right to try to exploit it. That said, Nolito seems destined for a return to Camp Nou.