Everyone’s favorite drawn-out transfer saga between bitter rivals will soon come to a close, as Marca reported Sunday that Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid have hammered out an agreement for the sale of Theo Hernández.
Theo will be heading to the Santiago Bernabéu for €26 million - a shade below the €30 million mooted previously. Real Madrid agreed to tack on an extra €2 million to avoid having Theo’s buyout clause deposited with LaLiga’s offices, and the fee will be shelled out over four separate installments.
The agreement for the 19-year-old left back also signals an end to the “non-aggression pact” which had been in place since 2000, when midfielder Santiago Solari moved to Real after Atlético were relegated. Theo, who spent this past season starring at Alavés, has held firm on his commitment to join the reigning Spanish and European champions since it was first rumored back in April. Atleti’s efforts to get him to sign for Barcelona or an English team went for nought, and the player will be introduced during the first week of July (which is too far in the future for our liking).
From an Atlético point of view, this has to be regarded in this moment as an awful transfer and a low point for the club’s cache particularly as it relates to its neighbors. Atlético had two chances to evaluate Theo’s value properly - last summer during renewal talks and this spring during negotiations with its crosstown rivals - and proceeded to whiff horribly on both occasions. Theo, a player of obvious quality and promise, was offended at playing in the B team in 2015-16 and Diego Simeone agreed to offload him to newly-promoted Alavés nonetheless after los colchoneros’ trek to Australia during the 2016-17 preseason. Theo’s agreement with los vikingos had long been in place, but Atlético made a huge error in not demanding top dollar for a player whose skill set has drawn comparisons to Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos. Then again, the €24 million buyout clause inserted into the canterano’s contract last summer was eminently affordable for a club as wealthy as Madrid. Atleti couldn’t even get the entire transfer fee up front. Just terrible all around.
(This is where I mention that Lucas Hernández could be on his way to Manchester City next summer for about double Theo’s fee.)
Whether or not Theo adjusts to life at the Bernabéu is another story - as is whether he can avoid potentially troublesome off-pitch problems. He could flop at the biggest club in the world. But he also could be a raging success and show Atlético what a colossal misstep it made to let him walk for relatively cheap.