Atletico Madrid have been one of the busiest teams in summer transfer window with big deals in and out of the Wanda Metropolitano.
They may have lost Antoine Griezmannn but they have signed Joao Felix, one of the most promising wonderkids in the world – and they aren’t done yet.
According to reports, Tottenham Hotspur right-back Kieran Trippier is set to sign for the Spaniards in a £25m deal.
The full-back will be part of a huge defensive overhaul by Diego Simeone who has lost Diego Godin and Lucas Hernandez already this summer as they move to Inter Milan and Bayern Munich, respectively.
Another player on the cusp of joining appears to be Espanyol centre-back Mario Hermoso and a £35m deal could be done in the coming days.
They would join midfielder Marcos Llorente, left-back Renan Lodi, and centre-back Felipe who signed for around £60m in total, while Hector Herrera arrives on a free transfer.
Midfielder Rodri has, like Griezmann, left the club after Manchester City activated his £62.8m release clause.
Other exits included Gelson Martins to Monaco and Luciano Vietto to Sporting Lisbon, meanwhile they are attempting to offload Angel Correa.
Jan Oblak had reportedly criticised the club’s hierarchy for their lack of ambition but their signings certainly make a huge statement of intent.
Atletico even paid more than Felix’s release clause so they could land their target, which is impressive.
But how will they all fit in? Here at talkSPORT.com we have taken a look at how Atletico Madrid could line-up next season.
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Jan Oblak is likely to be the number one choice next season despite reports of his ambition to leave the club.
He was said to have been unhappy with the amount of key players leaving the club but with several signings in recent days this attitude may have changed.
There will be some changes in Simeone’s defence next season with Diego Godin and Filipe Luis both leaving after the end of their contracts, while Lucas Hernandez has been sold to Bayern Munich after they triggered his £72million release clause.
Left-back Lodi has been signed from Athletico Paranaense in Brazil but they may look to sign a more experienced defender to help the 21-year-old adapt to LaLiga.
Centre-back Felipe was brought in from Porto to bolster their options along with Jose Gimenez and Stefan Savic, and Hermoso will increase competition, or possibly indicate another sale.
Santiago Arias did okay in his first campaign and was due to start ahead of Sime Vrsaljko, who returns from a loan spell, but Trippier may now usurp them both.
There will again be several changes in this department following the departures listed above.
Marcos Llorente can help plug the gap in the middle of the pitch along with free transfer Hector Herrera from Porto.
Marcos Llorente joined the club from arch rivals Real Madrid[/caption]
Koke has occasionally been used on the right by Simone but he may look for extra cover in that department.
Thomas Lemar will continue on the left with Saul in the middle of the pitch alongside one of Llorente or Herrera.
Atletico are likely to lose Antoine Griezmann this summer after the forward signalled his intention to leave.
Joao Felix can be seen as a direct replacement and often played as the second striker for Benfica. He is versatile, though, and has played as an attacking midfielder and out wide.
Diego Costa has fallen out of favour at the club following eight-game ban for abusing a referee. Do not be surprised if he is one player who heads for the exit this summer.
The best option to partner Felix is Alvaro Morata, who is continuing his loan spell from Chelsea but could be bought permanently.
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10. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace to Manchester United) – £50million
It perhaps wasn’t the position which needed the upgrade at Old Trafford but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now has a superb talent on his hands.
The right-back, nicknamed The Spider, will make them more solid at the back and has the potential to improve going forward given he was initially a winger in Crystal Palace’s academy.
9. Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon to Tottenham) – £55million
In what might be one of the deals of the summer, Spurs have upgraded their midfield by signing the French international.
Ndombele’s dribbling and incisive passing in the middle of the pitch will help Mauricio Pochettino’s team get back to their best after a campaign where they had to patch up their squad to make it through a gruelling injury-plagued year.
8. Luka Jovic (Eintracht Frankfurt to Real Madrid) – £58million
One of the finest young poachers in world football, the Serbian was an inspired loan signing from Benfica by the Germans two summers ago.
After 34 goals in 70 games they jumped at the chance to activate a £7million clause in his contract back in April.
Just two months later they have sold him for almost ten times the amount – although around £10million is set to go to Benfica as part of their arrangement.
7. Rodri (Atletico Madrid to Manchester City) – £63million
With Fernandinho, aged 34, approaching the end of his career the time was right for Pep Guardiola to sign his eventual successor.
The Brazilian will get a new deal, so vital is he to the club, but expect Rodri to get plenty of game time after his huge move from LaLiga.
Rodri is often compared to Sergio Busquets so it’s easy to see why Man City have swooped.
6. Frenkie de Jong (Ajax to Barcelona) – £65milllion
What else can be said about the talented young Dutch midfielder?
De Jong showed Real Madrid, Juventus, and Tottenham his class in the Champions League, while England were also finding it tough against him in the UEFA Nations League.
He’s set to become a key player in Ernesto Valverde’s team almost immediately.
5. Matthijs De Ligt (Ajax to Juventus) – £67million
One of the most drawn out deals of the summer was final done with Juventus securing the much coveted signature of De Ligt.
Several of Europe’s top clubs tried to land the 19-year-old defender before he eventually elected to head to Turin.
4. Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich) – £80million
One of several departures from Diego Simeone’s side this summer, Hernandez was being tracked by the Bavarian behemoths for some time.
In the end the German side bit the bullet and paid the French World Cup winner’s release clause.
3. Eden Hazard (Chelsea to Real Madrid) – £88million
No surprises here. The Belgian was always looking likely to leave Stamford Bridge this summer and this has now come to pass.
He’ll be heading to the Spanish capital and attempt to fill the boots of Cristiano Ronaldo, who left the club last year.
2. Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid to Barcelona) – £108million
The French World Cup winner’s long-running transfer saga finally ended when Barcelona announced his signing on July 12.
Griezmann’s move to the Nou Camp was one of football’s worst kept secrets, however the Catalans wanted to wait until they could activate his £108million release clause.
Atletico have contested the fee, arguing that Barcelona and Griezmann agreed a deal before the release clause dropped from £180million.
1. Joao Felix (Benfica to Atletico Madrid) – £113million
Now the second most expensive teenager ever behind Kylian Mbappe, the Portuguese wonderkid will play in LaLiga next year as a replacement for the outgoing Antoine Griezmann.
From his full breakthrough in the first-team at the start of January he scored 13 Primeira Liga goals in 19 games, as well as netting in the Europa League too.
He’s a creative force as well, registering eight assist in all competitions.
Unsurprisingly, eight of those ten are currently plying their trade in the Premier League.
talkSPORT.com takes you through the shortlist below…
1. VIRGIL VAN DIJK – Southampton to Liverpool, £75m
Liverpool eventually sealed a deal for Van Dijk in January 2018, having been accused of tapping home up by Southampton just six months earlier.
Van Dijk costs a hefty £75m, making him the most expensive defender in world football, but he has more than proved his worth during his spell on Merseyside to date.
The Dutchman has played an integral role in Liverpool’s title bid this season at the heart of their defence.
2. LUCAS HERNANDEZ – Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich, £68m
The World Cup winner had been mooted for a move to Bayern for many months, before the Bundesliga leaders finally finalised a mega money move for the left-back earlier this week.
The German giants splashed out the £68m fee required to trigger Lucas’ exit at the end of the season, meaning now they have a defender who could play at the very top for the next decade or more.
3. AYMERIC LAPORTE – Monaco to Manchester City, £57m
Laporte signed a two-year contract extension at the Premier League champions last month, taking his deal at the Etihad to 2025.
The French centre-back joined City from Spanish La Liga club Athletic Bilbao for a club record £57m in January 2018, but to date has still not represented the French senior team.
4. BENJAMIN MENDY – Monaco to Manchester City, £52m
Pep Guardiola broke the record for a defender when he signed Mendy from Monaco in July 2017.
An enigmatic and colourful character off the field, the left-back rose to prominence as one of Europe’s most exciting full-backs in the 2016-17 season as Monaco won Ligue 1 – while also reaching the Champions League semi-finals.
His arrival spearheaded a spectacular overhaul of City’s backline, which saw them spend close to £165m on three defenders and goalkeeper Ederson, but two serious knee injuries have curtailed what looked to be a promising start to life in England.
5. DAVID LUIZ – Chelsea to Paris Saint-Germain, £50m
Paris Saint-Germain paid a whopping fee to sign Brazil international David Luiz from Chelsea in 2014.
He won Ligue 1 in both of his seasons at PSG, but returned to Stamford Bridge in a £34m deal in August 2016, making it three top-flight titles in a row come the end of that season.
Luiz, who turns 32 next month, is out of contract this summer but has made it clear he wants to stay in west London.
6. KYLE WALKER – Tottenham to Manchester City, £50m
Walker arrived at City for a whopping fee back in July 2017 from Tottenham, and he hasn’t looked back since.
He quickly established himself as a key component of the defence, winning two Carabao Cup titles and the Premier League to date.
The Champions League and FA Cup could yet be added to that list this season.
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7. JOHN STONES – Everton to Manchester City, £47.5m
City have underlined their financial muscle in the transfer window for many years, in particular when acquiring England talent.
Another one of those signings, John Stones, has shown steady improvement after a tough first season at the Etihad following his big-money move from the Toffees in August 2016.
8. EDER MILITAO – Porto to Real Madrid, £42m
Another transfer set to go through at the end of the season, Madrid caught many by surprise when it was announced earlier this month they had paid the release clause of Porto’s Brazil international Militao.
The 21-year-old was only brought to Europe from Sao Paulo in 2018, appearing somewhat of a gamble at this stage by Los Blancos.
9. DAVINSON SANCHEZ – Ajax to Tottenham, £36.6m
Spurs waited several weeks to make their first signing of the close-season transfer window in 2017, but they did so in some style, smashing their club record to bring Sanchez to north London.
The former Atletico Nacional man reportedly also caught Barcelona’s attention during Ajax’s run to the Europa League final in 2017 and has looked a solid addition to the Premier League since arriving.
10. LEONARDO BONUCCI – Juventus to AC Milan, £35.2m
A major falling out with Juve head coach Massimiliano Allegri led to Bonucci being allowed to join Serie A rivals AC Milan in 2017, who opened their war chest in a bid to return to the Champions League.
Bonucci won six Serie A titles at Juventus, but such success did not follow at San Siro.
His form suffered until he secured a return to Turin just a year later.
Who said anything about tears? And yes he went for £80m but that just makes Van Dijk looks a bargain. And what I meant was I wouldn't have put a bid in at all for him, not even for £20m because hes not needed and worse than all our current options.
Hernandez, 23, becomes the second defensive recruitment Bayern have made for next season, with his French team-mate Benjamin Pavard also agreeing a £31million deal to join the Bavarian club from Stuttgart in January.
“Today is a very important day in my football career,” Hernandez said in a statement released by his new club
“Bayern Munich is one of the best clubs in Europe and the world. I am proud to be able to fight for all titles for Bayern in the future.
“I would like to thank Atletico, the management, the coaches, my team-mates and the fans for a wonderful 12 years. Atletico will always be part of me. Now I’m happy that I’m taking the next step at Bayern.”
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Hernandez leaves Atletico having emerged as a key member of Diego Simeone’s defence in the Spanish capital.
The full-back has made 67 LaLiga appearances for the Colchoneros, scoring one goal, but will play no further part this season after sustaining a knee ligament injury.
Hernandez started his career at Rayo Majadahonda before moving to Atletico’s youth system in 2007 and breaking through the ranks to cement a spot on the left-side of defence.
The deal sees Hernandez become the second most expensive defender in history, behind only Virgil van Dijk, who joined Liverpool from Southampton for £75million last year.
Manchester United have been in excellent form since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over as interim boss but they aren’t resting on their laurels.
The Old Trafford hierarchy are well aware the team needs investment despite their resurrection under the Norwegian.
It’s claimed executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward understands the Man United defence needs to be reworked, especially after their 2-0 Champions League defeat to Paris Saint-Germain.
The loss, which saw Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard forced off through muscle injuries, showcased how the Old Trafford outfit need to tweak their defensive options and add at least one more forward to their arsenal.
It’s yet to be decided whether Solskjaer will be the manager to take the club forward into next season on a permanent basis but it appears the players they want to land have been.
So who are the four top targets for Manchester United?
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Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)
Into his fifth season in Italy, the Senegalese star continues dominate Serie A strikers with his imperious displays in Carlo Ancelotti’s backline.
Possessing all the characteristics needed of a modern ball-playing defender, it’s no surprise he’s wanted at Old Trafford.
He’s been a long-term target for the club and could finally end up in the north west of England if Manchester United cough up the £90million which would be needed to sign him.
Nikola Milenkovic (Fiorentina)
With Antonio Valencia on the way out of the club and Ashley Young creeping on in age, another full-back is needed to cover the right side along with Diogo Dalot.
The Serbian, who can play at both right-back and centre-back is looking like the top target in this position having excelled in Serie A, just like Koulibaly.
His poor disciplinary record might cause an issue in the Premier League so scouts will have to do their due diligence before a deal is finalised but it seems the Red Devils are keen.
Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid)
Also a top target for Bayern Munich, the French full-back was seemingly set to move for £75million in January thanks to a release clause.
The deal didn’t happen but now Manchester United may swoop to beat the Germans in the summer.
He’s capable of playing at centre-back too, which is why he’s seen as such a valuable asset, while his time under Diego Simeone has made him wily, which could make him perfect for the Premier League.
Douglas Costa (Juventus)
The fact the Red Devils struggled so much without Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial went off against Paris Saint-Germain shows they do need at least one more attacker.
And as we’ve seen, pace is key. This means the Brazilian star is a sensible target for the club and at £52million he’s not a bad price for an experienced competitor in Europe.
Not too long ago Bayern Munich were one of Europe’s most feared teams, but they have somewhat lost their way over the past 12 to 18 months.
They may have won the Bundesliga last season but it was a turbulent campaign, with Jupp Heynckes replacing Carlo Ancelotti as manager in October 2017, as well as suffering a surprise 3-1 loss in the German Cup final against Eintracht Frankfurt.
It’s arguably been even worse this season, however.
At the halfway point, Bayern are second in the league and six points behind Borussia Dortmund while in the Champions League they face Liverpool in the last 16 – a contest winger Arjen Robben labelled the ‘worst possible draw’.
And naturally, a number of players have been linked with a move to Bavaria during the January transfer window, which has seen Benjamin Pavard’s move from Stuttgart in the summer being confirmed earlier this week.
So how might we see Bayern line-up next season? Below you can see this potential XI for the German giants in the 2019/20 campaign.
Goalkeeper – Manuel Neuer
Bayern are clearly looking to get rid of the old guard and despite being 32 years old, Neuer is well and truly there to stay at the Allianz.
His contract expires in June 2021 and given he’s one of the top goalkeepers in world football. It would simply be madness to let him go.
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A reshuffle on both defensive wings could be in order at the Allianz.
As already mentioned, 22-year-old right-back Pavard will officially join Bayern in the summer but they have also been linked with a move for Atletico Madrid’s Lucas Hernandez.
Meanwhile, Nicklas Sule and Mats Hummels would carry on as the two centre-backs.
With Robben and Ribery set to depart, Bayern could do with strengthening in midfield too.
However, recruiting Pavard would allow for highly-rated Josh Kimmich to move from right-back to central midfield permanently alongside Thiago Alcantara – a position Kimmich is more than capable of playing and where his future surely is.
They have the likes of Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry to call on down the wings but one of the big transfer stories in this window has seen Chelsea starlet Callum Hudson-Odoi linked with a move to the Allianz.
News that Bayern Munich could pay the €80million buyout clause for Atlético Madrid’s World Cup-winning defender Lucas Hernández has highlighted the Spanish side’s weakened position due to salary limitations, which leave them exposed in the winter transfer market.
It is the transfer bombshell in Spain, delivered before the window had even opened. On December 19, Marca revealed Bayern were preparing to provide the cash for Lucas Hernández to pay his buyout clause, allowing them to sign the 22-year-old, who is having his most consistent season yet at Atlético Madrid where he is proving to be a key piece in a key season.
Few, if any, saw it coming. After winning the European Super Cup by defeating arch rivals Real Madrid (Lucas played 120 minutes in the win), Atleti have pushed on and are still in the three major competitions they are competing for this season. Through to the Round of 16 in the Copa del Rey, they are only three points behind Barcelona in La Liga with a match against the Catalans still to play. And though being drawn against Juventus in the Champions League is not ideal, their manager’s excellent track record against Italian opposition (Diego Simeone is unbeaten against Serie A sides as Atleti boss) provides cause for optimism that they can move a step closer towards the final, which will this year be held at their home ground.
Growing in importance, Lucas can expect to play in the majority of games in that three-pronged push for silverware, having already done so to date. Last year he played three Champions League matches before Atleti were unexpectedly eliminated in the group stage. This year he has already made five appearances, and only missed the final group game through injury. In La Liga, after 17 games, the Frenchman has made the same number of appearances as at the same stage in the 2017/18 season, but only because he has missed four matchdays through injury and suspension. If not, he would undoubtedly have played more.
The defender is among Atleti’s eight most-used outfield players of the 2018/19 season in terms of minutes, and has started the vast majority of games in his preferred centre-back position, as opposed to left-back where he largely filled in during previous years. The club has long considered him to be the prime candidate to partner José María Giménez at the heart of the defence in the post-Diego Godín era, and Lucas is now being given the chance to show he can do that job on a weekly basis.
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That a winter move to Bayern would be about progression on the pitch is not exactly clear-cut therefore. What it would mean, though, is a significant pay rise (the Bundesliga club would reportedly double his salary). During the summer Atleti tied the player down to a new deal that extended his stay at the Metropolitano until 2024, but only a few weeks later the France international went on to win the World Cup as a starting player, increasing his potential to earn. Due to La Liga salary limiting regulations, Atlético are unable to offer him a pay rise under present conditions, their player wages currently accounting for around 70 percent of their 2018/19 budget.
Atleti’s inability to budge, combined with the player’s increasing profile and an €80million buyout clause that is very much accessible for European superclubs like Bayern gives them diminished power with which to negotiate. Emotional arguments may be of little use, too. Lucas is an Atlético academy graduate who has risen from the youth ranks to a regular first team position, with the potential to become one of their new heroes starting this year. His brother Theo didn’t let sentiment get in the way, though, when he rejected several offers for a new deal from Atleti and joined Real Madrid in 2017. The siblings share the same agent.
Their only hope is that Bayern back off, at least until the summer, encouraged by the good relationship between the two clubs. Whether the Bundesliga side choose to strike now or in June could have a huge impact on Atlético’s season: a recurring spate of muscular injuries that has decimated their squad means that without Lucas, their chances of winning trophies are far slimmer.
That would also be the case in the Champions League of course, where Bayern could yet lock horns with the Spaniards in a competition that is particularly important for both of them this season. Atleti eliminated the Bavarians the last time they met in a knockout tie, so just how charitable are Bayern really feeling? Even if they are, with Atlético ultimately relying on changing the player’s mind and convincing him to sit tight until the summer for an improved contract, who’s to say Bayern will be the only buyers to appear?
Atletico Madrid have issued a statement denying the rumours Lucas Hernandez has been speaking to Bayern Munich about a possible transfer.
The French World Cup winner has an €80million (£72m) release clause which it’s believed the Germans want to trigger.
Speculation in Spain had suggested the player and the Bundesliga behemoths were well on the way to doing a deal.
But now LaLiga outfit Atletico have released a statement which insists both Hernandez and Bayern have denied the claims.
It said: “Following the story published by the Marca newspaper on an alleged deal between Bayern Munich and our player Lucas Hernandez, according to which the German club is to trigger the Frenchman’s buyout clause in the January window, Atlético de Madrid wishes to state that, in conversation with our club, Lucas Hernandez has denied any deal with Bayern Munich and also any intention to exit our club.
“Additionally, the excellent relationship between Atlético de Madrid and the German club has led Bayern Munich to deny said operation during a conversation between officials of both clubs.”
But even this may not halt rumours with Bayern’s chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge speaking out on the subject after their 1-0 win against RB Leipzig on Wednesday night.
He admitted the release clause was ‘certainly an advantage’ but also suggested nothing was in place.
“I can neither deny nor confirm something,” said the CEO: “You can only confirm something when it’s fixed, and that’s not it yet.”
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Meanwhile, Atletico sporting director Andrea Berta told Sport 1 that he “cannot comment on this matter because they should ask Rummenigge. The player told me that he wants to stay at the club.”
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