Atlético Madrid are moving quickly to replace Diego Costa, and the club is set to welcome Olympique Lyonnais marksman Moussa Dembélé into the fold next week on an initial loan deal.
Various reports state that Lyon will send Dembélé to Atlético until June, and there is an option to purchase included. The option to buy is non-obligatory, so if the 24-year-old’s performances are deemed insufficient, Atleti could send him back when the season ends.
This non-compulsory purchase option is what moved the club away from a deal for Real Sociedad’s Willian José — La Real reportedly insisted on a mandatory purchase — or a deal for Napoli’s Arkadiusz Milik. The Italians are still holding out for €15 million as the Poland striker’s contract dwindles toward expiration.
On Saturday, Lyon sporting director Juninho confirmed Dembélé had asked to leave. Should the weather allow it, Dembélé will fly to Madrid this week to finalize the deal and undergo a medical. The 24-year-old is presently recovering from a broken arm that is expected to keep him out until the end of January, though the injury shouldn’t hold up the deal.
Dembélé is coming off back-to-back 20-plus goal seasons for Lyon, but this season has not gone according to plan for the France U-21 star. Though Lyon lead Ligue 1 by a point over Paris Saint-Germain, Dembélé has one goal to his name in 671 minutes. That said, he’s suffered from quite a bit of bad luck, as his 0.51 expected goals and 3.06 shot-creating actions per 90 indicate.
Dembélé have to hit the ground running as he joins his third league in four years, given the competition for places within Atlético’s attack. The former Fulham and Celtic forward will back up Luis Suárez to start, and he offers something different than the Uruguayan, who could be his partner on occasion. However, he is more likely to give Suárez the occasional breather, as Simeone tries to keep the 33-year-old as fresh as possible for the springtime fixture congestion. Atlético have three games in hand on second-place Real Madrid and on third-place Barcelona, not to mention a Champions League last 16 tie against Chelsea in February.
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