One could argue that Atlético Madrid’s squad has not housed a pure 5 since Rodrigo Hernández’s departure for Manchester City nearly three years ago. Thomas Partey (who joined Arsenal in 2020) offered a number of important qualities to Diego Simeone’s midfield, and Atlético effectively replaced him by committee last season. But while Geoffrey Kondogbia is the closest such player at Simeone’s disposal this year, no one has yet filled Rodri’s void as a game-controlling pivot — a player who shields the defense behind him and wins the ball as dutifully as he passes it accurately.
Atlético are hoping to change that in the next transfer window, according to reports in Goal and Marca on Thursday. The club has been tracking Marseille midfielder Boubacar Kamara for two years and is “optimistic” about getting his signature this summer.
Kamara, a Marseille native, will be a hot commodity after he refused to extend his contract with his boyhood club. Bayern Munich, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur are in the race to acquire him — all three clubs can offer a higher salary than Atlético. If the 22-year-old chooses one of those projects, Atleti will focus on an alternative target like Sergi Roberto, who is still hoping to receive a new deal with FC Barcelona.
But Kamara is the top choice to bolster Simeone’s midfield, and the club is coming back for him after failing with a late bid in the January transfer window. Atlético are said to remain “well-placed” in the Kamara fight, believing a superior sporting project combined with a ready-made place in the center of the park will convince the obviously-ambitious player to join LaLiga.
Kamara has experience playing in central defense in addition to central midfield, and he has been indispensable since breaking into Marseille’s first team in 2018/19. He has started 113 of his 121 career appearances in Ligue 1, scoring three goals and assisting five. This season, Kamara has registered better than 90 percent passing accuracy for the first time (while attempting more than 75 passes per 90 minutes). He has also made better than two interceptions and two clearances per 90, along with roughly nine ball recoveries on average.