Yannick Carrasco’s midseason departure from Atlético Madrid left Diego Simeone without a true attacking threat from a wide position. In fact, even before Carrasco left for China in February, Simeone started many games in 2017/18 with central midfielders all across one of his two banks of four. Vitolo’s addition was supposed to mitigate the lack of playmaking in this setup, but the ex-Sevilla winger struggled to crack the XI despite some solid performances over the season’s final six weeks.
Atlético want to sign a winger this summer to (at least) complement Vitolo and serve as a link between midfield and attack. The club could opt to splash the cash on Monaco’s Thomas Lemar, work toward signing a proven Liga Santander starter in Samu Castillejo or even keep it in-house by ceding the role to Ángel Correa.
But there may not be a more fascinating possible reinforcement than Paris Saint-Germain’s Ángel Di Maria — and AS say the Argentina international is eager to return to the city where he’s enjoyed his greatest success.
Similar to Spanish radio reports earlier this month, F.J. Díaz’s report in the Madrid daily claims that Di Maria has phoned Simeone several times and stated his desire to play for him. Cholo is a long-term Di Maria fan, once calling him Real Madrid’s most important player during his time at the Bernabéu. Indeed, his countryman was the driving force behind Madrid’s win over Atlético in the 2014 Champions League final — his creativity and tireless running culminated in the assist for Gareth Bale’s 110th minute goal. Di Maria has been at PSG since 2015, and he notched a career-high 11 league goals (21 across all competitions) this term. He could possibly win his 100th cap for the Argentina national team at this summer’s World Cup.
PSG are in a weird spot this summer. Financial Fair Play sanctions are looming over the French champions and they need to sell off pieces from their richly-talented squad. While not a certainty to go, a Di Maria sale seems like a logical one to make — PSG/Qatar likely won’t make a profit off a player they bought for €50 million but they could still bring in a sizable fee, and sorting out personal terms may not be too difficult if the player truly wants to play for Atlético. He’s also not a fit in an attack that already features Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappé.
This is certainly a story to keep an eye on.
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