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Cope: Atlético to target Mertens, Telles in summer window

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Plus, more on Antoine Griezmann’s future.

FC Porto v AS Roma - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images

Cadena Cope’s Antonio Ruiz has reported that Atlético Madrid are now planning for next season’s squad, and they are interested in signing Napoli winger Dries Mertens, Porto left back Alex Telles and Ajax left back Nicolás Tagliafico.

With the expected departures of Filipe Luís, Diego Godín and possibly Juanfran, Atlético have a chance to reboot their aging defense. Telles has been a long-term target, and the 26-year-old has become a star in Portugal. The Brazilian has made over 130 appearances for the Dragons and was key to their progression to the Champions League quarterfinals as he slotted the winning penalty in extra time against Roma.

The winger Mertens has also been linked with Atlético in the past and has over 250 appearances in Serie A. The 31-year-old Belgian international is responsible for 18 goals (nine goals/nine assists) over 26 league games and has his team in the Europa League quarterfinals. Tagliafico has been a key cog for Eredivisie giants and Champions League quarterfinalists Ajax, and the 26-year-old Argentine has also drawn interest from Arsenal.

Ruiz also says that sources close to Antoine Griezmann and to the club believe that the Frenchman’s time in Madrid is nearing an end, just nine months after the forward put pen to paper on a €23 million per year extension to 2023. Previous reports have indicated that Barcelona have put in another offer for the 27-year-old, while Ruiz’s Cope colleague Manolo Lama says that Paris Saint Germain have an interest in signing the World Cup winner.

Tagliafico and Telles as targets makes sense — both players are attacking full backs in their mid-20s with Champions League experience. They figure to have a few prime years left, but Mertens — who turns 32 in May — does not seem like a great fit, with little resale value and especially considering Diego Simeone’s fast-declining track record with wide attackers.

The likelihood of Griezmann’s possible departure has increased in the past few days, and like last season it would not be surprising to see Atlético linked with several big names to replace their talisman should he actually leave this summer.