Šime Vrsaljko’s past nine months at Atlético Madrid have been rough, to put it lightly. The 25-year-old seemed on the verge of becoming Diego Simeone’s first-choice right back before a ligament tear ended his season in March. He returned to full fitness over the summer, but he’s been hit with ankle and back niggles this season and has become an afterthought in Simeone’s plans. Indeed, despite being deemed fully fit against Real Madrid and Real Sociedad, El Cholo left him out of the squad for both games, choosing to play an aging Juanfran and an out-of-position Thomas Partey instead.
Atlético now know Vrsaljko wants to leave the club, and his agent has reportedly secured an agreement on a contract with Napoli. However, AS say that Maurizio Sarri’s side will face stiff competition for the Croatian.
Three of Serie A’s top four sides are said to be interested in Vrsaljko, and Atlético will sell him for €25 million, the report says. Napoli want him to replace the injured Faouzi Ghoulam at left back, while Juventus are said to be frustrated with the inconsistencies of current full backs Mattia De Sciglio and Stephan Lichtsteiner. And AS Roma — who are set to advance in the Champions League at Atleti’s expense — are kicking Vrsaljko’s tires, too; boss Eusebio Di Francesco coached the player when both were at Sassuolo.
As far as a possible replacement is concerned, the AS story says that Atlético’s front office will decide whether to roll with Thomas for the rest of the season or reinvest the proceeds from a potential Vrsaljko sale into a new right back.
By getting as many sides involved as possible, Atlético have a shot to make a profit on a promising but little-used and disgruntled player. Regardless of where Vrsaljko ends up, it appears he will be going to a side competing in Europe and competing for trophies — and with each passing day and with each exclusion from the squad, the likelihood of his departure grows.