Atletico Madrid will turn to Beijing Guoan forward Cedric Bakambu if a deal cannot be found to sign Paris Saint-Germain’s Edinson Cavani, Goal understands.
Cavani is out of contract at the end of the season and is weighing up his options, but PSG are reluctant to see him leave in the January transfer window.
PSG would likely demand a transfer fee beyond what Atletico are willing to pay, while Cavani would also have to accept a lower salary.
The Uruguay international would be happy to join, but his current annual wage of €12 million (£10m/$13m) presents a major stumbling block to any deal.
Generally speaking, Atletico’s hierarchy believe 32-year-old Cavani to be too much of a financial risk for a player of his age, but Diego Simeone is desperate to sign him. The club, meanwhile, continues to look elsewhere.
Atletico have three conditions that a striker must meet if they are to be signed in the January transfer window: that they know La Liga, have a good goalscoring record, and can be signed either for free or until the end of the season.
The 28-year-old Bakambu has been targeted by Atletico in the past and meets all three of the above criteria, and they are considering a renewed bid. It is thought that Bakambu would likely be interested in a move to the Spanish capital, too.
Having left Villarreal for Beijing Guoan in February 2018 on a €10m-per-season (£9m/$11m) contract, new Chinese Super League regulations designed to curb clubs’ spending will soon see this figure drop significantly.
The French-born DR Congo international is therefore eager to leave, with a return to Europe likely. Recent reports in the Spanish press claim he has already been offered to Valencia, but Atletico may make an offer of their own.
After joining from Bursaspor in 2015, Bakambu scored 46 goals in two-and-a-half seasons at Villarreal and plenty of Spanish fans and pundits were disappointed to see him leave for Chinese riches.
For the time being at the Wanda Metropolitano, Cavani remains Simeone’s primary target for the January window. If a deal cannot be reached, however, Bakambu will be Atletico’s next choice of striker.
Fourth-placed Atletico have scored 27 fewer goals than Spanish leaders Barcelona at the halfway stage of the season, with Alvaro Morata and Joao Felix the only players to have scored more than twice.