Atlético Madrid have settled on Pablo Maffeo as their first-choice right-back for next season, according to a report in Diario As.
Several names were touted as possible arrivals to reinforce the position, but Maffeo is the most likely right now given his price tag. His team, Mallorca, stayed up on the final day of the season last year, and that triggered a clause in the 24-year-old’s contract meaning the club were obliged to buy him for €3.5 million.
Diego Simeone’s preferred candidate was Nahuel Molina, with the Udinese president admitting it would be hard for his side to keep the Argentine defender. But Atlético are struggling to sign players with Juventus and Chelsea FC letting Álvaro Morata and Saúl Ñíguez return to the rojiblancos after their loans expired. This has proven chaotic and disruptive to Atlético’s summer plans.
Emerson Royal was also mentioned but Tottenhan have no interest in selling the Brazilian right-back. Jonathan Clauss from Lens was another player linked to the club with the French defender admitting he had been in talks with Atlético. Chelsea and other Premier League clubs want him, making it difficult for Simeone’s side to negotiate.
As has been written here multiple times, right-back is a priority this summer because Atlético failed to replace Kieran Trippier last winter. Daniel Wass arrived and injured himself during his first appearance for the club. He recovered but never featured again and does not have a place in Simeone’s plans.
Maffeo might be the priority option now but in a way, he is the only option. The other players mentioned are either out of Atlético’s budget or unavailable. He is a reliable if unspectacular option and at 24, there is scope for development.
Maffeo played 2,945 minutes last season, perhaps his most consistent as he has bounced around Spanish clubs. Maffeo started out moving between Girona and Manchester City. He was scouted and signed by Bundesliga side Stuttgart in 2018 but only lasted a season in Germany before being loaned back to a number of clubs, including Huesca and then Mallorca.
Atlético start their preseason in a week and have not announced any new signings this summer. With the options narrowing, Atlético might have stumbled on their right-back of the present and future if things work out.