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CONFIRMADO: Atlético Madrid sign Geoffrey Kondogbia

The Valencia pivot joins Atlético as Thomas Partey’s replacement.

Valencia CF v Real Betis - La Liga Santander Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Hours before the team kicked off its third Champions League group stage game, Atlético Madrid announced Geoffrey Kondogbia’s arrival from Valencia on a contract to 2024.

LaLiga allowed Atlético special dispensation to sign a new midfielder after Arsenal swooped in to sign Thomas Partey for his €50 million buyout clause on Oct. 5. Atlético quickly agreed terms with Kondogbia, and the France-born midfielder effectively forced his way out after refusing to train with “heel problems.” Atleti had until Wednesday to complete the deal.

Kondogbia began his career at Lens before moving to Sevilla in 2012. After a year in Andalusia, the 27-year-old moved to Monaco, then spent a couple seasons at Inter Milan before Valencia acquired him on an initial loan deal. He made 82 appearances for Valencia and scored six goals.

Kondogbia is ineligible to play in Champions League group stage games, but he has played five league games this season for Valencia — which sold another player below market value as its ownership cabal continues its “reimagining” of the first team. All reports agree Atlético will pay less than €20 million in all for Kondogbia, with Goal reporting Los Colchoneros have acquired the player for €10 million. Most other outlets believe there are variables affixed to the agreement that take the total to roughly €15 million.

Club Atletico de Madrid v Valencia CF - La Liga Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

The Central African Republic international will take the number 4 shirt, and his presence crowds Diego Simeone’s midfield even more. Along with stalwarts Koke and Saúl, the coach has Lucas Torreira and Héctor Herrera available, so the competition in the center of the park could be fierce.

Kondogbia’s advantage could be in that his player profile is most similar to Thomas — he covers a lot of ground and is an accurate three-level passer. Kondogbia was at his best under Marcelino when he managed at Mestalla — and Marcelino’s Valencia drew favorable comparisons to Simeone’s Atlético. If that’s the player with whom Cholo gets to work, then this becomes a very good transfer.