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Atlético CEO: Lucas cannot leave in January

The defender might stick around after all.

Club Atletico de Madrid v AS Monaco - UEFA Champions League Group A Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

It is widely expected that Atlético Madrid will be active in the winter window as they look to bolster further a squad that is competing on three fronts. However, recent whispers have posited that Atlético will sell rather than buy, as Bayern Munich have barked up Lucas Hernández’s tree and are willing to pay his €80 million release clause.

Atlético CEO Miguel Ángel Gil Marin on Thursday confirmed that the German giants are interested in Diego Simeone’s 22-year-old defender — as if the player’s non-denial of existing reports had already confirmed it — but he tried to pour cold water on the fire nonetheless.

“We have a good relationship with Bayern and we will meet with them in January to evaluate the situation,” Gil Marín said in an interview with Goal. “The player cannot leave in the winter window.

“If the player wants to leave, we will speak [with him] — but always in July,” Gil Marín continued.

In one way, this is encouraging news, as it gives Atleti a chance to discourage Bayern from activating the clause — or even worse for the Bavarians, negotiating a deal. On the other hand, it now seems pretty certain that Lucas will leave before 2019 is out, and that is a big, big blow to a defense that he was set to lead for years to come.