Atlético Madrid signed him from Sevilla in 2017 for €37.5 million — which, at the time, was the second-largest transfer fee in club history. The former Spain international could not officially join Diego Simeone’s squad until January 2018, as Atlético were serving a registration ban, but he failed to stand out once he finally arrived.
In four seasons as a Rojiblanco, Vitolo scored seven goals and notched nine assists over 101 games, and he was an afterthought when Atleti won LaLiga in 2021 — after which the club extended his contract to 2024 and shipped him to Getafe on loan.
Many now regard Vitolo’s transfer as one of the worst in Atlético’s history.
With the 2021/22 season now over, Atlético have to figure out what to do with the Canary Islander. Vitolo made just seven appearances (one start) in another injury-riddled campaign at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez, and Atleti’s neighbors won’t count on the 32-year-old winger for next season, either.
Marca’s Jesús Izquierdo reports one possibility is a third stint on Gran Canaria, where Vitolo began his career and played six months on loan in 2017 while waiting for Atlético’s registration ban to expire. The player has spoken to club president Miguel Ángel Ramírez, who would be delighted to have him back as Las Palmas push for promotion in 2023.
According to Marca, Atleti and Las Palmas are expected to discuss a loan deal, but Vitolo’s €60,000-plus per week salary is a potential stumbling block. As a Segunda side, Las Palmas cannot afford to cover 100 percent of the player’s wages, so the sides will have to meet and come to an agreement on a percentage split. Izquierdo also says a loan with an option or an obligation to buy will be on the table, likely triggered if Las Palmas win promotion.
Atlético will have to get creative this summer to improve the squad. The club has made sure to let it filter out that expensive signings should not be expected — at least, not without corresponding sales from the first team. Vitolo is an obvious candidate to leave again, while the board is expected to hear offers for Mario Hermoso, Thomas Lemar, Álvaro Morata, and Saúl Ñíguez. In addition, Yannick Carrasco, Ángel Correa, and Renan Lodi could draw varying degrees of interest.
Atleti have exceeded LaLiga’s revenue-based spending limits, and the board must balance accounts by June 30 to avoid falling out of compliance with the tight salary cap requirements. This would significantly hamper the club and make signings difficult.