Sporting Braga to send Fran Merida back to Atletico Madrid - report

The former Arsenal starlet has been discarded by Leonardo Jardim's men for 'technical reasons', while the Rojiblancos are also set to make their loan deal for Pizzi permanent
On-loan Sporting Braga midfielder Fran Merida is set to return to Atletico Madrid in January after failing to convince coach Leonardo Jardim of his worth, according to a report.

The 21-year-old had originally joined the Primeira Liga outfit on a season-long loan deal from Atleti, but his spell appears to have come to an end after just seven appearances and one goal.

Sources close to Braga are believed to have informed AS of the news, which will come as a relief to Merida, who had stopped training with the first-team squad and did not have the faith of his boss Jardim.

Merida, a product of Barcelona's much-famed La Masia youth academy, followed former team-mate Cesc Fabregas' footsteps to Arsenal in 2005, but struggled to make an impact at the Emirates, before moving on to Atletico in 2010.

However, he could not attain regular playing time under Quique Sanchez Flores in the Spanish capital, and it remains to be seen whether newly appointed trainer Diego Simeone has identified him as part of his plans.

On the other hand, Atleti are ready to turn a deal for Braga loanee Pizzi permanent, according to sources close to EFE.

The forward, 22, has shown his new bosses enough promise for them to fork out 15 million by December 31 in order to tie him down on a long-term basis, despite playing out just 160 minutes since his arrival.