Atlético on Sunday confirmed the departure of João’s close friend Matheus Cunha to Wolverhampton on an initial loan deal with a future obligation to buy. And as expected, the club is working to close more outgoing transfers as CEO Miguel Ángel Gil and sporting director Andrea Berta eye a squad overhaul in 2023. Yannick Carrasco could also leave the club next month if anyone steps up with a €40 million bid, as the Belgian is said to be unhappy that he hasn’t been offered a new contract.
But the mercurial João is the biggest chip Atleti can cash in, with multiple reports stating that interested clubs have been quoted a fee well north of €100 million for the Portugal international.
Bernard claimed Sunday that like Cunha, João will almost certainly be off to the Premier League, either to reinforce table-topping Arsenal or help Erik ten Hag’s United side return to the Champions League for 2023/24. Both clubs are in discussions with João’s intermediary Jorge Mendes, and while the player’s final destination is still unknown, it will not be Paris Saint-Germain.
The French outlet previously reported that PSG were not interested in signing João, as coach Christophe Galtier and top executive Luis Campos sought other profiles. Fabrizio Romano has also said the Ligue 1 leaders “never opened concrete talks” to sign the 23-year-old. Plus, João would have firmly been a backup given PSG’s first-choice forward line consists of Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, and Lionel Messi.
Matteo Moretto reported on the possibility that Atlético will let João leave on loan, with an obligation to buy that will be activated in the summer. Atleti have roughly €60 million left to amortize as part of the €127 million deal to sign João from Benfica three years ago, and the club will certainly require the buying club to pay his full salary, so there are still a lot of moving parts that need to be sorted out before the Portuguese attacker leaves Madrid.
Atlético’s next game is a league fixture against Elche at the Cívitas Metropolitano on Thursday. Right now, it seems unlikely João will be a participant as he looks to finalize his exit and bring an end to his contemptuous relationship with Diego Simeone.