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AS: Atlético no longer considering Thomas Lemar sale

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In related news, hell is considering freezing over.

Atletico Madrid Players Return To Training Following Coronavirus Lockdown Photo by Handout/Getty Images

Who’s ready for another “will he, won’t he” saga?

From the creators of such hits as “acquiring Edinson Cavani from Paris Saint-Germain” and “trying to spend money you don’t have on Rodrigo Moreno,” it’s “maybe Atlético Madrid are going to keep Thomas Lemar after all!”

Despite 18 months of underperformance and whispers — no, more like shouts —of a departure, F.J. Díaz at AS wrote Friday morning that despite interest from Arsenal abroad, Atlético do not plan to part with the €24 million-rated Frenchman when the transfer window reopens.

Arsenal are one of the clubs most interested in him, although it will have to be seen if [that interest] is real when the season ends. Manchester United are also attentive to the Atlético player’s future. It was even published that [Lemar’s] agents had met with Manchester United representatives. The Madrid club, however, remains firm on Lemar: it will not sell. Atlético paid €70 million for 70 percent of the transfer and do not want to part with their footballer on unfavorable terms.

No doubt influenced by one of COVID-19’s global side effects — mass economic upheaval — Atlético have no desire to take a heavy loss on a one-time record investment, especially when someone like €66 million bust Diego Costa likely will become a free agent in 2021. Sure, Lemar has zero goals and zero assists this season, but he’s only 24 and he’s won a World Cup.

Did I mention he was a one-time club-record signing?

And that apparently, Diego Simeone has had a revelation about the player?

To Díaz!

Simeone has been clear with Berta [Atlético’s sporting director] and with the Madrid club’s leader: he will try again with Lemar. He continues to believe in his potential and does not want to part with him. Another factor will be what the transfer market will dictate and if Atlético — if they do not qualify for the Champions League — will need to part with a footballer to stay within its [new] budget.

Simeone has dragged Lemar publicly for months, and previous reporting indicated that the player was/is ready to leave Madrid. The obverse of this coin — Atlético wanting to sell, but Lemar wanting to stay — no longer seems to be showing.

So even if Arsenal’s long-standing interest is really real (Díaz wrote about that, too, earlier this week), it appears now as if Atleti will hold onto Lemar unless an offer blows down the front office’s doors. In January, club CEO Miguel Ángel Gil Marín said the player was not for sale, though that seemed like posturing in light of the Edinson Cavani pursuit.

But perhaps MAG was serious, and the next transfer window could be very quiet at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Or Los Rojiblancos will bring in James Rodríguez and get rid of Lemar anyway. Who really knows?