The squad is taking shape.
Barring further unexpected departures, Atlético Madrid are finalizing their team for 2018/19. Two more arrivals are anticipated, both in attack — a deal for former Sporting Clube de Portugal winger Gelson Martins is progressing, while several names have been mooted to replace Kévin Gameiro as Diego Costa’s backup. Gameiro will join Valencia once los Che agree a fee with Atlético.
The Wheel of Backup Striker Fortune appears to have stopped on AC Milan’s Nikola Kalinić. The Croatian — who was kicked off his country’s World Cup squad nearly three weeks ago — is available after the rossoneri were booted from European competition by UEFA, and prominent Serie A reporter Alfredo Pedullà has said that Kalinić has a “total agreement” to join Diego Simeone’s side.
Let’s allow Pedullà to explain what’s going on here (my Italian is a little rusty):
[Kalinić] has given an unconditional “yes” [to Atlético]...The Croatian signed a contract last summer to 2021 for about €3 million per season. Atlético will take over that contract, and when Gameiro goes out — destination, Valencia — it will close the circle that includes Simone Zaza’s transfer to Milan. In the latter’s case, [he will go] on loan with an obligation to buy, the same formula that almost certainly will be used for Kalinić by Atlético.
Marca’s Alberto Barbero reported on Monday that Atleti would very much like to go the “loan with obligation to buy” route — no doubt due to tightened finances after renewals and big fees doled out for Costa and Thomas Lemar. So it does seem as if Kalinić will join los rojiblancos in the coming days, but Gameiro must be moved on first and Milan want to secure Zaza in the meantime.
Kalinić endured a poor 2017/18 season at Milan, where he scored just six goals from 41 appearances in all competitions. However, the 30-year-old scored 27 league goals for Fiorentina over the previous two seasons and played a key role in Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk’s run to the 2015 Europa League final. He scored in Warsaw but his side lost 3-2 to Sevilla.