Diego Simeone appears ready to allow Fernando Torres and Yannick Carrasco to leave Atletico Madrid if they want to move to China.
Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang have been linked with a double swoop for the Atletico duo ahead of the new Chinese Super League season in March.
Simeone has already indicated Torres, an Atletico icon, will not be given a contract extension, with the striker’s deal set to expire at the end of the season.
And with Carrasco out of favour – he has started only eight LaLiga games this season, scoring three goals – Simeone will let the Belgium winger leave if he wishes, with Nicolas Gaitan ready to step in as his replacement.
“The exit, if it is confirmed, is important – he is a player with a great future and a great present,” Simeone said of Carrasco after Atletico progressed to the last 16 of the Europa League by knocking out Danish champions Copenhagen.
“It is a decision of the player. Now the opportunity for Gaitan is renewed. He is a player in whom we have confidence. Hopefully Nico grows and gives us important situations.”
Regarding the future of Torres, Simeone added: “What interests us all is that the team wins. We both want what is best for the club, there is no more to it than that.”
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) February 22, 2018
Torres started the Copenhagen game with Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann absent, but it was strike partner Kevin Gameiro who hit the only goal at the Wanda Metropolitano on Thursday, securing a 5-1 aggregate victory.
“He missed pre-season and it took him a while to catch up physically,” Simeone said of Gameiro, who has scored in three consecutive games.
“We’ve always believed in him and what he’s bringing to the side now shows his quality. He’s in great form which is great for him and, in turn, for the side.
“We’ve got a great stadium, amazing players, both young and experienced. We had a difficult start to the season but are now competitive, we want to compete in LaLiga, which we are, and also in the Europa League, too.”
22 – 50% of Atletico’s win this season in all competitions have been by a single goal margin (11 out of 22), keeping clean sheets in 18 of them. Enough pic.twitter.com/jjbhUbOZqp
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 22, 2018
Copenhagen struggled to cope with Atletico over the two legs, leaving their coach Stale Solbakken full of praise for Simeone’s side.
“We came away with skin on our nose, if you like, only losing 1-0,” Solbakken told a post-match news conference. “I’m very, very impressed with Atletico Madrid.
“When you analyse them, during our Champions League campaign last season we didn’t play any team as good as them. They changed some players and we were able to have a decent performance.
“You have to praise the opposition – Simeone and Atletico – we have played all the big teams in Europe in the last five years like Juventus, Real Madrid and the likes, but this is the team I am most impressed with. They’re a great example for us.”
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