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Inter close in on Šime Vrsaljko deal

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The Croatian could seal a move back to Italy in the coming days.

France v Croatia - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Final Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Atlético Madrid right back Šime Vrsaljko is expected to complete an initial loan move to Inter Milan within the next few days.

Atlético sporting director Andrea Berta has traveled to Italy to complete the transfer (and continue negotiations with AC Milan for Nikola Kalinić). Vrsaljko renewed his contract in February, but his agency — Italian firm GR Sports — has been in negotiations with several Serie A sides since late last year.

The deal as mooted seems to be set up in Inter’s favor. Italian and Spanish reports say it is a one-year loan with an initial fee set between €7 million and €8 million. Inter will take up the player’s compulsory option to purchase next summer, and that will net Atleti another €17 million or so. Further variables could push the final fee to €30 million, but los colchoneros wouldn’t be able to recoup that fee until 2019.

Prior to the World Cup, Vrsaljko had iterated that he was happy in Spain. However, Atlético’s willingness/desire to sell apparently has won out — and his value may never be higher after he helped Croatia reach the World Cup final.

On the one hand, Vrsaljko’s displays in the World Cup knockouts showcased the attacking potency and solid defensive game (particularly his aerial abilities) that can make him one of LaLiga’s best full backs. On the other, the 26-year-old has not often shown that commitment at club level and it is telling that he played just 55 minutes in Atleti’s three biggest games of 2017/18 — he was sent off 10 minutes into the Europa League semifinal at Arsenal and was substituted at half time in the Europa League final. Indeed, Thomas Partey ended the past two seasons as Atleti’s starting right back and Vrsaljko has failed to convincingly beat out the aging Juanfran even with both players fit.

PSV and Colombia right back Santiago Arias is seen as the early favorite to replace Vrsaljko should he leave.