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Rodrigo Moreno will join Atlético Madrid imminently

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Per multiple reports in Spain.

Valencia CF v FC Internazionale - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Update: Rodrigo is set to complete a transfer to Atlético in the coming days per several new reports as Ángel Correa will move to Milan. The former missed training Tuesday morning amid the transfer speculation, and has already said adiós to his Valencia teammates.

Antoine Griezmann decided to stay in Madrid last summer ahead of what would be his final season with Atlético Madrid. Prior to the very public reveal of his choice, Atlético reportedly sounded out several big names across the continent to potentially replace the Frenchman — one of which was a star on another top four Spanish team.

Rodrigo Moreno is a different player from Griezmann and he was not an exact substitute for him last summer. He isn’t now, either — but according to several reports out early this week Atlético still want the Valencia forward and have eyed a deal for him should James Rodríguez stay at Real Madrid.

AS on Monday claimed Atlético have reignited their interest in Rodrigo and have kept Ángel Correa on the table as a possible makeweight in a deal. The Argentine has so far refused a move to Monaco, and his preferred club AC Milan have not met Atleti’s financial demands. Correa’s inclusion would lower the price for the 28-year-old, whose release clause stands at €120 million (though Valencia will negotiate for around half that clause).

The report contains conflicting information from Valencia’s end — apparently, some sources insist their player isn’t going anywhere, while others believe his transfer could be on the cards as los Che have to balance their books.

(Sounds about right, as miscommunication and infighting has blighted Valencia’s summer.)

Marca also say Atlético have “studied” bringing Rodrigo to the club as nerves abound over whether Real Madrid will negotiate James’ sale. (Come on, Florentino, let him go already.) Marca outlines Atleti’s motivations as such: Diego Simeone is not convinced by ex-Benfica B striker Ivan Šaponjić, and Nikola Kalinić — kept out of all preseason action — is expected to leave the club before Sept. 2. Diego Costa and Álvaro Morata are considered “insufficient”(???) as the only natural forwards in the squad. Thus, there exists a desire for further competition among them.

Radio Valencia, meanwhile, say Rodrigo has asked to leave after hearing of Atlético’s interest and negotiations with his representatives have heated up in the past couple days.

All this sounds...weird. The league season begins in less than a week, and Rodrigo is one of Valencia’s most important players. He’s also a Spain international and will surely want consistent game time ahead of EURO 2020 next year. Though his raw numbers indicated that 2018/19 was a down season, he underperformed his expected goals tally (to say the least) as his side waited until spring to start scoring more than once per match. He also scored the winning goal in May’s Copa del Rey final to deliver his club its first trophy in 11 years.

Look, Rodrigo is solid enough, and for my money would be a welcome addition to a striker corps that looked pretty powerful in the preseason but needs to stay fit during the season. That said, these circumstances are so odd, and the cost — Correa and a chunk of money — is relatively high for someone who wouldn’t be a guaranteed starter. And above all, it’s very hard to imagine Valencia would pluck one of Marcelino’s three best players from under his nose and sell him to a rival so close to LaLiga’s return.

Did I mention the league season starts this weekend?