Neal Thurman

Transfer Talk

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Impact of Atletico Ban

Thursday, June 1, 2017


After seeing local rival Real Madrid have their transfer ban cut in half on appeal, hopes were high at Atletico Madrid that the same would be the case for them but, alas, it is not to be and the club will not be able to register new players until January 2018.  La Liga rivals Barcelona faced a similar situation a few seasons ago but had the financial might to sign players and just let them sit out until the club could officially register them.  The expectation is that finances are slightly different at Atletico and that they will have to match significant inbound and outbound activities if they are to stay within shouting distance of Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga and progress into the knockout stages of the Champions League.  The end result is that there will likely be very little movement related to Atletico's big name players this summer.  

 

Since this is a Premier League focused page, the next step for us is to analyze what this news means for Premier League teams in the transfer market as there are a number of significant items that hinge on Atletico either buying or selling a player.  Here's a quick recap of how things are likely to change: 

 

Diego Costa likely stays at Chelsea

The Spanish-Brazilian has long been linked with a move to China but recent rumblings have the Blues talisman indicating that Atletico Madrid is the only club that he wants to move to this summer.  This may have a lot to do with Tianjin Quanjian distancing themselves from a big money move for Costa but it also may have backfired if he wants out of Stamford Bridge.  If China is off the table as an option and Atletico are barred from bringing him in until January then he will have to decide if he a) wants to re-up with Chelsea (who will certainly want a decision one way or the other; or b) throw out some other clubs that he might want to join.  The bet here is that he and everyone in Blue in West London make nice and he signs a long term deal to be the primary forward for Chelsea for the 2017-18 season and beyond.  

 

Knock-on Effect: If Costa stays this may decrease the interest that Romelu Lukaku has in re-joining the Blues.  With Manchester United also in the market for a center forward with Zlatan's future cloudy-at-best, this has to increase the chances that Lukaku heads to the red side of Manchester rather than Stamford Bridge.  

 

Alexandre Lacazette is back in play

The early money had Lyon forward Alexandre Lacazette moving from Ligue Un to Atletico Madrid this summer for a pretty good chunk of money with a verbal agreement already reportedly being in place between the two clubs.  Now that the transfer ban has been upheld, those same reports are indicating that the agreement between Lyon and Atletico is off.  The France international has said he is ready to move and Lyon will have to make up for failing to qualify for the Champions League with a chunk of cash from somewhere and a Lacazette transfer is the most likely source.  Whether the player is interested in Arsenal, who also won't be in this season's Champions League, remains to be seen but whether it is Arsenal or elsewhere, it seems clear that Lacazette will be on the move for big money and his destination won't be Atletico Madrid.

 

Knock-on Effect: There isn't an obvious next domino to fall here.  Sure, the arrival of Lacazette could hasten the departure of Lucas Perez back from whence he came but it is unlikely that there are many other ramifications of Lacazette-to-Arsenal in the Premier League.

 

Antoine Griezmann likely stays at Atletico

It's funny that Manchester United this morning leaked that "Griezmann wasn't a major priority at this time".  Could that be because Atletico will refuse to sell due to their inability to replace their best player? Yes, United have a number of attacking midfielders in Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Juan Mata, and (at least for now) Wayne Rooney.  Griezmann is a significant improvement over any of those three and, if he were available, he might not check their biggest need but he'd be a great get.  It's hard to imagine an amount of money that Atletico would be willing to accept to essentially go the first half of the season without their best player or any suitable replacement due to their inability to replace him.  Maybe United gets their man in January, maybe not until next summer but it seems likely that it won't be happening this summer.

 

Knock-on Effect: As noted above in the Costa note, not getting Griezmann frees up money for United to pay a massive fee for their next center forward.  Romelu Lukaku is the first name typically mentioned despite the fact that Jose Mourinho has already sold him once.  Andrea Bellotti has also been mentioned frequently as an option when everyone was under the assumption that Lukaku was headed to Stamford Bridge.  Obviously, Griezmann remaining in Spain with Atletico also improves the chances that Mkhitaryan becomes the presumed starter/creator next season which will be a big boost to his production which, frankly, was a huge disappointment in his first season in the Premier League.

 

Jan Oblak not an option

There are a bunch of Premier League clubs that need, or may need, goalkeepers this summer.  If David De Gea leaves for Real Madrid then Manchester United will be in.  Liverpool could certainly use an upgrade.  Arsenal have to be looking at a Petr Cech replacement this summer or next at the latest. Everton, with a massive pile of cash from new ownership and the potential sales of Ross Barkley and Lukaku, are also going to be in the market. Manchester City were on the list but it looks like they have their man.  If, due to the inability to bring in a replacement of their own, Atletico are going to hold on to their number one Oblak for another season then the price on the other options - guys like Jordan Pickford - just went up that much more.  Oblak may not have the highest upside of the young goalkeepers potentially available but he's certainly the most seasoned and proven in major competitions.  

 

Knock-on Effect: Probablly none given that Manchester United were the only likely suitor in the Premier League for Oblak this summer and then only if De Gea moves back to Spain.  Liverpool, Arsenal, and Everton will likely be dividing up the English goalkeepers - Joe Hart, Pickford and Jack Butland - between them if all three make moves at the position this summer. 



Neal Thurman manages the Rotoworld's Premier League coverage and contributes to Never Manage Alone which he co-founded. He is also a diehard Arsenal supporter. You can find him on Twitter @NealJThurman.
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