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Atlético open to selling Lemar as part of midfield restructuring

This is according to Cadena SER.

Atletico Madrid v Valencia - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Spanish radio on Thursday reported that Atlético Madrid are interested in signing Valencia’s Carlos Soler and Espanyol’s Sergi Darder for next season, in an effort to add more creativity and depth to Diego Simeone’s midfield.

Miguel Martín Talavera says potential exits will condition Atlético’s ability to execute this plan. Talavera claims that Thomas Lemar is now being viewed inside the club offices as someone who can be flipped to raise funds, while the club is also looking to remove Vitolo’s salary from the wage bill and study offers for Rodrigo de Paul or the returning Saúl Ñíguez.

Soler has been linked for weeks with a transfer away from his boyhood club. Cadena SER says Valencia have offered him to Atlético in hopes of balancing the books by June 30. With more managerial upheaval taking place at Mestalla, just six weeks after Los Che narrowly lost the Copa del Rey final to Real Betis, now might be the perfect time for the 25-year-old to embark on a new adventure in LaLiga.

Soler has scored 22 goals the past two seasons (14 penalties) and has made half a dozen appearances for Luis Enrique’s Spain. He is regarded as one of the country’s most versatile midfielders, and no Valencia player created more total chances than he did in 2021/22.

RCD Espanyol-Atletico de Madrid. La Liga Santander Photo by Joan Valls/Urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Darder’s name was brought up in conversation during the standard pregame meal between club directors just prior to Atlético’s 2-1 win over Espanyol in April. The 28-year-old has a contract with the Péricos that expires after next season, and Simeone is reportedly among the players’ admirers.

Darder joined Espanyol from Lyon in 2018 and helped bring the team back from Segunda in 2021. He finished with three goals and nine assists from 36 appearances this past season, leading the Parakeets in passes completed, shot-creating actions, goal-creating actions, and expected assists per 90.

Atleti’s goal is to fund one or both midfield signings through player departures. The club wants to get rid of Vitolo’s contract, ideally through a sale, and will consider any proposals for Saúl when he returns from Chelsea. (Perhaps sending him to Valencia in a deal for Soler?)

But Lemar’s own contract situation could create an avenue to acquire new pieces in midfield during a summer where Atlético’s pockets look a little light. The 26-year-old playmaker has not yet agreed a new contract despite months of negotiations, and he has doubts about staying at the club. The expectation is a sale, certainly at a loss after Atleti brought him in for €70 million four years ago, if Lemar signals that he’s not going to renew.

Serie A sides Roma, Juventus, and Inter Milan have asked Atlético about de Paul. The Argentina international is not likely to leave this summer, and Simeone considers him a starter for next year. However, the Cadena SER report ends rather cryptically, saying “the transfer window is expected to be very long.” Translation — a de Paul sale cannot be ruled out at this time.