Atlético Madrid formalized right back Santiago Arias’ loan move away from the club on Monday night after striking a deal over the weekend to send the Colombian to Granada. The Andalusian side will not have an option to buy next summer.
This will be Arias’ second consecutive loan spell after he joined Bayer Leverkusen last season. He played only one game in the Bundesliga after fracturing his fibula while on international duty — as a result, the 29-year-old will be looking to play regular first-team football for the first time since 2019/20.
Diego Simeone has never quite taken to Arias, a summer 2018 arrival from PSV who is gifted offensively but suspect defensively. He couldn’t dislodge the great Juanfran or Kieran Trippier in his first two years with Atlético, and the lack of serious interest in Šime Vrsaljko — whose contract expires next June — made this a relatively easy choice for the club.
Also, Arias occupied a non-EU space in the squad, so Atlético had to move him to make room for Matheus Cunha — who, like Felipe and Renan Lodi, does not hold an EU passport. His future in Madrid is likely to be determined definitively when the season ends, as his contract is up in 2023.
Atlético seemed intent on acquiring a replacement for Arias in the transfer window’s final days, but the trail for Lille right back Zeki Çelik ran cold Monday morning as Matteo Moretto confirmed the Turkey international would not be joining the colchoneros.
That could leave the reigning league champions short in this department. Though Trippier is undoubtedly one of Spain’s top full backs, Simeone doesn’t seem to trust Vrsaljko and has instead preferred Marcos Llorente playing out of position at right back/right wingback, thus blunting Atleti’s attacking strength.