Atlético, of course, have already completed deals for two former members of los Blancos this summer — Marcos Llorente arrived in a €30 million transfer last month, and last week the club came to an agreement with Álvaro Morata’s parent club Chelsea over signing him permanently. However, despite inevitable (and valid) questions over his tactical fit in a Diego Simeone-coached side, James would represent a game-changing acquisition in what has already been a chaotic transfer window.
David Medina of Marca has written that James is “crazy” about a possible move back to the Spanish capital. The 28-year-old is said to have put the brakes on a transfer to Napoli amid the interest from Atlético — the mattress makers’ intrigue has been reported by Spanish radio at different points this summer, but this is the most concrete report to emerge yet.
James seemed all set for a reunion with Carlo Ancelotti over in Italy, but Napoli and Real Madrid have hit a snag in negotiations. The Serie A giants have asked to take James on an initial loan with an option to buy — this after Madrid already saw Bayern Munich turn down the chance to keep the midfielder on a permanent basis. Now, Zinedine Zidane wants him off his hands for good.
Madrid’s preference is to sell James to Napoli — but then, they’d probably rather sell him to the moon rather than to Atlético. It’s believed Atleti’s nemeses want around €40 million for the out-of-favor star, and they need to cull their squad after spending so much money earlier this summer. The longer Napoli’s standoff with Madrid lasts, the more optimistic Los Rojiblancos will become about leveraging their way into a deal.
James is on holiday after Colombia exited the Copa América at the quarterfinal stage on June 28.