Kieran Trippier’s departure in January left a void in Atletico Madrid that seemed difficult to cover. The right-back may not have been the best player in the world in his position, but he did a phenomenal job during his stay at Wanda Metropolitano.
Soon after, Los Rojiblancos signed Daniel Wass as a natural replacement for Trippier. The Danish international joined the club in January but only made one league appearance. By the end of the season, it was clear that he was not a long-term solution for Simeone.
According to reports from Gianluca Di Marzio (h/t Fabrizio Romano), Atletico Madrid have finally found their man. The Rojiblancos are closing in on signing Nahuel Molina from Udinese as they look to round up their second transfer of the window.
Talks between the clubs are in the final stages. Moreover, Nehuen Perez will be included as part of the deal, making the move from Spain to Italy.
Last season, Molina made 35 Serie A appearances for Udinese, scoring seven goals and providing two assists. He also averaged close to six defensive actions per game. While his defensive numbers will certainly improve under Cholo, one would expect his impact in the final third to be decisive for Atletico.
Meanwhile, Nehuen Perez spent the last season on loan at Udinese and impressed under Andrea Sottil. He made 19 league starts, averaging over ten defensive contributions per game. It is not surprising that the Italian club wanted to make his signing permanent.
The official announcement of the transfer is expected in the coming days. It remains to be seen if Molina will be available in time for the club’s pre-season game against Numancia later this month.
Atletico Madrid midfielder on the derby against Real Madrid: “Very difficult to beat them”
Following a 1-1 draw in their Champions League opener against Lazio, Atletico Madrid will shift all their attention to La Liga, as they brace themselves for the derby against Real Madrid this weekend.
Heading into this game, Atleti midfielder Marcos Llorente spoke about Real Madrid’s quality and Atletico Madrid’s chances of squeezing all three points from this iconic derby.
Llorente on Madrid derby
“The sensations are good. The team is very good, the other day we played a great game despite ending up drawing. I really think that the team did a great job that must be maintained for this match,” Llorente said in an interview with Diario AS.
When asked whether or not Real Madrid being tagged as favourites could aid Atleti, the midfielder said, “Honestly, it neither motivates me nor demotivates me. We simply have to do what we work on during the week, what the coach asks of us.”
Llorente stressed the importance of the game, adding, “It is a great rival we have in front of us, they are having a very good start to the season and that motivates me and everyone to try to play a good game.”
“Real Madrid is a great club, they have great players and it is very difficult to beat them. I think we have competed, we have also achieved several draws, but in the end, either you go out one hundred percent and do things very, very well or it is difficult to beat them,” he added.
A former member of the Real Madrid youth academy, Llorente joined Atletico Madrid in 2019. Since then, he has racked up over 150 competitive appearances for Los Colchoneros.
Llorente, though, said he feels no sense of vindication when he performs well against his former team.
“No. In the end, it’s been many years since I left there and I’m at Atlético. Perhaps in the first years, those types of feelings and sensations can arise, but today they no longer do,” he said.
Llorente on Vinicius, Koke & Bellingham
The Atletico Madrid star went on to talk about other aspects of the game, including the fact that his team had one less player every time they faced Real Madrid last season.
“I have zero worries. These are things that are not in our remit, that escape our hands. We play football, the referees referee and those who have to decide decide,” he said.
Llorente, in fact, said that the return of Koke could be a real boost for Atleti. “It is always good that Koke is with us, both on the field and in the day-to-day life of the game,” he said.
“Beyond the grass. The support he gives, the advice he gives us, his experience. it is always important to have him and it is great news that he is already training with us,” he added.
Talking about the absence of Vinicius Junior and the form of Jude Bellingham, Llorente said, “Well, you have to be careful with everyone. All Real Madrid players are very good and can make a difference at any moment of the game. Bellingham is having a great start and we have to take that into account and be very focused.”
Finally, Marcos Llorente put out a message for all the Atletico Madrid fans, claiming their support ahead of this crucial encounter this weekend.
“It will be a full house as always. We don’t have to tell them anything, they know the importance of this match for Atlético, we know that they never fail, they are always supporting us and we count on them,” he said.