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Atletico Madrid's transfer plans at a standstill as they're forced to sell before signing new players

10:10 BST 24/06/2021
Diego Simeone Atletico Madrid 2020-21
Diego Simeone's side want to build on their successful 2020-21 season although they need to offload before they can look at strengthening their squad

Atletico Madrid will be unable to make any new signings unless they start selling some of their players, with a lack of interest from rival clubs meaning that the champions of Spain's summer plans are at a standstill.

Diego Simeone's side claimed a thrilling league title win in 2020-21, finishing ahead of Real Madrid and Barcelona but are currently unable to build on that success as they do not have the necessary funds.

Atletico have been badly hit financially by the coronavirus crisis, as have other leading European clubs, meaning Rojiblancos players who were previously attracting plenty of attention now have no suitors at all.

What is the situation?

Goal has learned that there are no bids on the table for either Saul Niguez,   Vitolo or Sime Vrsaljko, despite the trio of Atletico players having previously been linked with clubs around Europe.

While midfield playmaker Saul, previously eyed by Manchester United  and others, is key for Atletico and they want to keep him, winger Vitolo has stated his desire to leave the club, with the club happy to be free of his €6 million per year wages.

However, there have been no offers for Vitolo, nor for full-back Vrsaljko - another linked with Old Trafford previously - although Atletico expect interest will be renewed later in the summer.

Another player who could eventually be on the move is defender Renan Lodi. Atletico are having to be patient regarding interest in his services, as they do not want to be forced into a quick sale just to free up funds, when they could hold out for a higher asking price later in the window.

They are also seeking interest in fringe full-backs Manu Sanchez and Santiago Arias, who spent last season on loan at Osasuna and Bayer Leverkusen respectively.

Who do Atletico want to sign?

Atletico are clear in the positions they want to strengthen: goalkeeper, winger, central midfielder and forward. They are also considering moves for a left-back, with Valencia's Jose Luis Gaya and Alex Grimaldo of Benfica considered, but this is not a priority.

While they are very happy with Jan Oblak as their No 1, they are seeking a new back-up goalkeeper, to allow last season's No.2, Ivo Grbic, to go out on loan.

In midfield, they are working on the signing of Rodrigo de Paul from Udinese , although the finances of the deal mean it has not been confirmed yet. Up front, they are expecting to sign  Marcos Paulo from Fluminense, although the 20-year-old Portuguese attacker will likely be sent out on loan to get experience.

Why can't Atletico sign anyone?

Because of La Liga's strict salary limit rules, Atletico cannot spend more than €217m (£185m/$259m) a year on their wage budget. They are currently exceeding this level, despite allowing Alvaro Morata to join Juventus on loan for another season.

This means Atletico's plans are currently on hold while their title rivals strengthen. Barcelona have brought in Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia and Memphis Depay, while Real Madrid have acquired David Alaba from Bayern Munich.

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