With Joao Felix’s loan move to Chelsea almost complete, Atletico Madrid are scouring the market for a replacement for the Portuguese international.
The Rojiblancos had already bid goodbye to Matheus Cunha and with Felix’s impending exit, their numbers in the attacking unit stand to be depleted.
As a result, Diego Simeone & co. are looking at several possible options to reinforce their frontline. And, according to Italian journalist Gianluigi Longari, out-of-favour Barcelona striker Memphis Depay has emerged as one of the targets for Atletico Madrid.
The 28-year-old Dutchman has fallen down the pecking order at Spotify Camp Nou, making just four appearances so far this season across all competitions, scoring just one goal in the process.
Depay has not featured in La Liga since September, when he picked up an injury. While he has been fit and available for Barça’s last two league outings, Xavi has not opted to call upon the Netherlands international, clearly indicating that he is not favoured at the club.
Depay’s contract with the Catalans expires at the end of the season and this window offers them the final chance to rake in some cash from his sale. There has been interest from Manchester United in the past and now Atletico Madrid have also entered the race.
The Netherlands international can offer versatility and experience at the highest level, while being available on the cheap. It certainly makes him an appealing prospect for the Colchoneros.
However, the lack of European football on offer could prove to be a major impediment in their pursuit of Depay. Furthermore, the 28-year-old has seemingly appeared reluctant to leave Barcelona this month as he desires to depart as a free agent in the summer.
Atletico Madrid have also been linked with Depay’s former Barcelona teammate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has found things tough at Chelsea and could be a more realistic target for Simeone & co.
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.