A report from Spanish radio claims Atlético Madrid are preparing to reshape its defense this summer and refresh Diego Simeone’s midfield — but the club insists it will need to focus on outgoing transfers before turning attention to new signings.
Cadena SER’s Pedro Fullana detailed the purported plan on Monday, claiming most of Atlético’s squad will remain in place after a failed title defense this past season. Atleti are maintaining confidence in players such as Marcos Llorente and Rodrigo de Paul to find form and consistency in 2022/23, while Fullana says the club expects to hang onto Yannick Carrasco and José Giménez amid Premier League interest. Also, Antoine Griezmann’s loan transfer from Barcelona will be made permanent sometime next season.
Neither João Félix nor Matheus Cunha is for sale, with the latter expected to take on a significant role next season.
Three departures have already been finalized. Héctor Herrera and joint-top scorer Luis Suárez will be playing elsewhere in 2022/23, while backup goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte will return to Monaco after spending the entire 2021/22 season on the bench.
Šime Vrsaljko could also depart the club, as his contract is expiring and he has not yet accepted Atlético’s renewal offer at a “considerably-lower” salary. Atleti also have to extend Thomas Lemar and Jan Oblak’s contracts — Fullana says both negotiations are ongoing. Felipe Monteiro’s renewal to 2023 (with an option to 2024 if he plays 25 games next season) is not official, but it has been agreed upon.
It appears increasingly-likely that the big player sales will come out of defense, although Ángel Correa’s situation could factor in here.
Atlético will sell center-back Mario Hermoso if “an interesting offer” arrives, as the player has a high salary and he made only three appearances after February. Reports on Monday and Tuesday have linked Newcastle with an aggressive pursuit of Renan Lodi — who could be off to the Premier League if the Magpies make a €40 million bid. Lodi has not been a regular in Simeone’s team the past two seasons, and he wants playing time in order to be considered for Brazil’s 2022 World Cup squad.
As for potential arrivals, the club could look for a new left-back depending on what happens with Lodi, and sporting director Andrea Berta wants a new center-back and a striker to replace Suárez.
But Atlético’s top priority is the right-back position, which has not been addressed properly since Kieran Trippier’s move to Newcastle four months ago. The club seems to be monitoring multiple players here, and Fullana even claims Atleti could make two purchases at the position if Vrsaljko leaves. This is because Simeone is determined to return Llorente to the midfield role in which he dominated during the 2020/21 league-winning campaign.
Cholo has reportedly already spoken with Udinese’s Nahuel Molina, whose transfer could be negotiated starting at €20 million plus bonuses. Molina, a 24-year-old Argentina international, scored seven goals and laid on two assists this past season. He can line up in a 3-5-2 or a 4-4-2. Atlético bought de Paul from Udinese and sent back young defender Nehuén Pérez on loan last summer, so the relationship between clubs is there.
The club is also weighing a bid for Lens right-back Jonathan Clauss, who notched five goals and 11 assists in Ligue 1. The 29-year-old has one year left on his contract, and his current club is apparently asking for around €20 million in order to move him. Like Molina, Clauss has experience as a natural full-back and as a wing-back.
The third candidate seems to be Mallorca’s Pablo Maffeo, a player Atlético have liked since his days at Girona. The 24-year-old helped Mallorca stay up this season, scoring once and setting up five goals in 35 appearances. With safety secured, Los Bermellones are now set to trigger a €3.5 million option to buy Maffeo from Bundesliga side Stuttgart. Atleti might have to double that fee in order to purchase him — ostensibly, as Simeone’s new second-choice right-back/right-wingback.
Elsewhere, with Boubacar Kamara no longer an option after he completed a free transfer to Aston Villa, Atlético are looking to make at least one new signing in the center of the park. Valencia’s Carlos Soler could be available as Los Che’s ownership needs to balance their books within the next month.
The returning Saúl Ñíguez is a consideration, too. His loan spell at Chelsea failed and tanked his market value, which — combined with his high salary and lengthy contract — means Atleti are anticipating he will be in the first-team squad next year.