Atletico Madrid are said to be monitoring the situation surrounding Chelsea’s Tiemoue Bakayoko with a view to a summer swoop.
The 26-year-old has now completed a season-long loan with Italian club Napoli. It was his third successive year away from Stanford Bridge with previous temporary spells at AC Milan and Monaco. And he enjoyed plenty of action with the Italians, making 23 Serie A starts among 32 appearances.
His other loans were also relatively successful. After a poor start for Milan, he upped his level and impressed manager Gennaro Gattuso.
And it was Gattuso who was also in charge of Napoli in 2020-21. But the former Italy international has now left for Fiorentina and the Naples club will not be purchasing Bakayoko.
Last month, Gazzetta Dello Sport said the Partenopei had “no intention” of signing the France international. However, it seems as though La Liga champions Atletico might be about to enter the picture.
Los Colchoneros pulled off a stunning league triumph, pipping Real Madrid by two points. Manager Diego Simeone will be looking to strengthen in the summer.
And it is said that the Argentine wants midfield reinforcements to aid his title defence. Lucas Torreira spent the season in Madrid on loan from Arsenal but will not be an option in 2021-2022.
And, according to Foot Mercato (via Sport Witness), Bakayoko is the man he wants. The outlet suggest Wanda Metropolitano officials are ‘closely following’ the player’s situation.
Transfer Chatter - Chelsea and Manchester City forward blow, Sancho deal agreed and PSG in talks with Ronaldo.
Chelsea and Manchester City suffer striker blow after television claims, Jadon Sancho fee agreed and Cristiano Ronaldo in talk to move to France, all in today's transfer chatter
And Simeone’s sister and agent, Natalia, is reportedly helping with the potential deal. The midfielder has just one year left on his Chelsea contract and can leave for nothing next summer.
Therefore it will need to be a permanent deal. Otherwise the Blues would need to extend his current terms to avoid losing him for free.
Bakayoko exit makes sense
The Parisian was given a fair crack of the whip in his first campaign in west London. He was handed 24 league starts and played 43 times in all competitions.
But it appears as though his face does not fit at the club. The former Rennes star has shown his true colours overseas but his form tailed off towards the end of last season.
Simeone has proved an excellent judge of character during his near decade in charge of Atletico. He has managed to guide his charges to two league titles despite having to battle with Barcelona and Real.
Add to that a couple of Europa League triumphs and two Champions League finals and it is clear he knows what he is doing. It was reported back in March that Chelsea were hoping to net €18m for the midfielder.
It remains to be seen if Atletico will go that high but it could be a bargain for a player with lots of untapped potential.