20 Jul Atletico Madrid watching goalkeeper market with concern
With Liverpool set to confirm the £66.8 million signing of Alisson from Roma on Wednesday, the goalkeeper market is starting to move at a furious pace. Liverpool has managed to secure the Brazilian stopper and correct one major issue within their squad, yet it’s a move which leaves Atletico Madrid watching the goalkeeper market with concern.
Now initially this may seem bizarre given the fact Jan Oblak is in place at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano and under contract until June 2021. However, the Slovenian has a buy-out clause embedded into his contract.
The value of this clause is believed to be around £89 million, a fee which would smash the newly set world record move for a stopper that the Anfield club have made. Such a cost would have previously been seen as prohibitive, but some clubs will be flush with cash and in need of a new number one.
Chelsea is expecting to lose both Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard this summer with Real Madrid looking to bring both to LaLiga. Courtois has already intimated that he wouldn’t be re-signing with the Blues and it’s likely he’ll be sold with his current deal set to expire in June 2019.
A fee of around £31 million has been mooted, although that would be an incredible bargain for Los Blancos. If Chelsea is to lose Courtois, then they will need to replace him, and despite early suggestions that the Blues could be interested in gazumping the Reds for Alisson, that doesn’t look possible any longer.
Jordan Pickford enjoyed a brilliant World Cup, and his stock has risen tremendously, but there is also the concern in Madrid that Chelsea will activate Oblak’s buy-out clause.
The club will have money to spend and don’t have too many areas of need in their squad. Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s return from loan and Aleksandr Golovin’s likely arrival will boost Maurizio Sarri’s midfield, while the defensive line is okay for another season. It wouldn’t be wrong to assume that much of the budget will go on replacing a genuinely world-class goalkeeper in Courtois with one to rival him.
Oblak is widely seen as the nearest challenger to David de Gea as the world’s best stopper, and his form for Atleti has been sensational in recent seasons, winning the famed Zamora trophy in three successive campaigns.
Chelsea would be able to offer him a sizable salary, and it may not be a move that the player would immediately discount due to the London club being absent from the Champions League.
There is also the scenario where Courtois isn’t allowed to leave Stamford Bridge, and Real Madrid has to look elsewhere for a new first choice. They have already broken the gentleman’s agreement with their local rivals over the signing of Theo Hernandez, and they could return for the Slovenian international if they are put in a difficult situation with Alisson already off the market.
Los Colchoneros were concerned about the prospect of Oblak leaving the club at the beginning of the summer with it felt 2018 would be the summer where Paris Saint-Germain made a mammoth move for a new goalkeeper. Kevin Trapp has been a disappointing signing and Alphonse Areola isn’t at the top level yet. With Gianluigi Buffon having signed a contract in the French capital, the club will not move for another keeper.
This made Atletico Madrid breathe a little easier, but now the pressure is back on with nobody quite knowing for sure just how the cards will fall in the market.
Diego Simeone has been privately praising the club’s work in the transfer window to this point. Antoine Griezmann, Jose Gimenez and Lucas Hernandez all signed long-term contract extension with Los Rojiblancos while the club also completed the signing of Thomas Lemar.
Diego Costa’s January arrival bolstered their forward line, and there is every expectation that Atleti will be able to challenge for the Champions League in the 2018/19 season. This is dependent on nobody crucial to the team leaving before the end of the window, with only Sime Vrsaljko seen as dispensable at this moment.
Whether Chelsea feels they can make a move for Oblak remains to be seen, especially with Jack Butland and Petr Cech available at much lower prices, but Atletico Madrid remains on alert just in case they are forced to act before the season begins.
* Disclaimer: The opinions within this article are those of the author and not necessarily representative of SportPesa