Boubacar Kamara will see his contract at Marseille expire on June 30, with extension offers in France being knocked back, and GOAL has learned that Atletico Madrid are now leading the race for his signature.
The Liga giants are confident that their efforts will be rewarded as they believe a highly-rated 22-year-old wants to make a switch to Wanda Metropolitano as a free agent this summer.
Atleti have failed in a previous bid for Kamara, when a €5 million (£4m/$5m) approach was knocked back, but the Frenchman is now ready to take on a new challenge and is understood to be keen on working with Diego Simeone while gracing a Champions League stage.
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Do Atletico Madrid face competition for Kamara?
While there is confidence in the Rojiblancos camp that a deal for Kamara can be done, it has not been completed as yet.
That is set to keep nerves jangling for now, with leading sides from across Europe also keeping a close eye on a promising French talent.
Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich have been credited with interest, while Premier League heavyweights Manchester United, Tottenham and Southampton are also casting admiring glances in the direction of Marseille.
All of those clubs would be able to offer Kamara are a bigger salary and signing bonus, with GOAL learning that the talented youngster is set to make a decision on his future in early April.
Atleti accept that a transfer ball is now in the players’ court, with every effort made to convince him of their worth across a protracted chase that was first set in motion some two years ago.
Simeone’s side cannot match the financial rewards on offer in England or Germany, but they believe that the sporting project they can present to an ambitious performer will allow them to prevail.
Do Atletico Madrid have alternative targets?
Kamara may be Atletico’s top target when it comes to holding midfield reinforcements, but they are keeping an eye out for alternative targets.
GOAL reported on March 11 that Barcelona utility man Sergi Roberto is another option that the Rojiblancos are exploring, as he is also set to drop into a free agent pool this summer.
Uncertainty continues to reign there, though, with a La Masia academy graduate still hoping to agree fresh terms at Camp Nou, and that means that those in the Spanish capital will continue to keep much of their focus locked on Kamara.