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Marcos Llorente close to Al-Ahli move — but another report denies the rumor

Al Ahli have been linked with a €25 million move for the Spanish midfielder.

Atletico Madrid v Manchester City - Preseason Friendly Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Atlético Madrid’s Marcos Llorente is close to a move to Al Ahli in Saudi Arabia according to two new reports. The 28-year-old could be set to join Edouard Mendy, Roberto Firmino, Riyad Mahrez and Allen Saint-Maximin amid this summer’s mass exodus from Europe to Saudi Arabia.

This summer has already seen Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Ruben Neves and Jordan Henderson move to the Saudi Pro League following Cristiano Ronaldo, who moved there in the middle of last season.

However, Relevo’s Matteo Moretto claims there is nothing between Llorente and Al-Ahli — no offer submitted to Atlético, and no negotiations with the player. David Medina has practically reported the same thing in Marca later on Wednesday.

Of course, this could still change, and it nothing else it is a potential referendum on Llorente’s significance to Atlético. Llorente was once a permanent fixture in Diego Simeone’s starting XI, but his importance to the team started to wane once the club signed Rodrigo de Paul and looked to implement a more possession-heavy approach.

Llorente has played heavy minutes at right-back when Atlético didn’t have one in the past, but the signing and emergence of Nahuel Molina as the starter has diminished Llorente’s chances even further.

During Llorente’s best season with the club, the ex-Real Madrid midfielder scored 12 goals in LaLiga as Atlético won the title. He started in 33 games and was crucial to the 2020/21 team’s success. But last season, he started just 21 games and scored only one goal — having scored none the year before.

Atlético still have a lot of transfer situations pending with João Félix yet to find a new club, Yannick Carrasco deliberation over his own move to Saudi Arabia and Álvaro Morata drawing interest from Italy.

The LaLiga season starts in two weeks with a home game against newly-promoted Granada on Monday 14 August. Atlético then play Real Betis, Rayo Vallecano, Sevilla and Valencia. Simeone would no doubt like to have a settled squad for those games.