Chelsea: Superstar keen on Spain move; midfield stalwart to leave; Simeone talks held
Spanish news outlet Mundo Deportivo have revealed that Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone held initial talks with Roman Abramovich over a potential move to Stamford Bridge, with his sister and agent Natalia travelling to London to meet with representatives of the club as they discussed would be terms of a new deal.
In the end, the talks came to nothing and Abramovich instead opted to appoint Antonio Conte with Simeone reluctant to commit with his side still fighting for the Champions League, where they lost in the final to their city rivals.
With Simeone now signing a shortened contract – with it now running to 2018 instead of 2020 – it suggests that the Argentine and his club have come to an agreement that he will depart in 2018 as sources close to the coach believe that he is preparing for a move to the Premier League. So much so, that he is taking English lessons as he hopes to try his luck in England after overseeing Atletico’s move to a new stadium next season, with Simeone still determined to secure the Champions League title for Atleti.
One of his former players, Thibaut Courtois, has also appeared in the Spanish press discussing his time in Spain, and, surprisingly, his desire to return to Spain. Speaking to Marca, the Belgian goalkeeper cast doubt over his future at Stamford Bridge as he said:
When I left Spain, I knew that I would return one day. I have a contract with Chelsea for the next three seasons. In 2018, when I’m in the last year of my contract, I’ll evaluate whether it makes more sense to stay or to go.
Courtois is a key player for the Blues and the club will be desperate to retain his services, even if he has not been at his peak in the opening weeks of the campaign, following on from rumours that he may seek a move away with no Champions League football at his current club.
The 24-year-old clearly doesn’t plan to stick around at the club in the long term, which will frustrate many of the club bosses who brought him to the club as a 19-year-old for a fee of around £7 million, and they will be hoping to make a major profit if they are forced to sell their man. This outcome is unlikely if the Belgian does indeed wait until the final year of his deal, so a decision will surely be requested earlier than this.
One man whose future is far more clear is John Obi Mikel, as he has revealed that with his contract set to expire at the end of the season, he is open to speaking to other clubs in January, when he will be able to begin talks with clubs outside of the UK. Mikel, who captained his side to Olympic Bronze, confirmed to Goal.com:
When you have a year left, in January, you are allowed to talk to other clubs and sign a pre-contract or have an agreement so, yes, I will talk to other clubs because you never know what is going to happen… If it is going to be the Premier League there will be options. If it is China or some other places, we will see. One thing is for sure, I will make the best decision.
Now in his 11th year at the club after reneging on a deal to sign for Manchester United, Mikel is yet to feature under Antonio Conte, with N’Golo Kante a clear direct replacement and upgrade. Having made 372 appearances for the club, Mikel has been a loyal servant to the club, but with game time becoming sparing, a move away when his contract expires seems inevitable.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Craig Ballantyne.