On-loan Theo Hernandez focused for Alaves amid transfer speculation
Widely admired young defender Theo Hernandez says he plans on returning to Atletico Madrid next summer, but first the on-loan player said he aims to defeat them with current team Alaves in Saturday afternoon's La Liga clash.
France youth international Theo, 19, has been a revelation at left-back for Alaves in what is his first season as a senior player, missing just three La Liga games as the Basque side have impressed in their first season back in the top flight.
The emerging star has been linked with top clubs, including Barcelona and Manchester City in the past, with speculation this month that his hometown club Marseille were ready to pay his €24 million release clause.
Asked about the speculation in AS, the son of former Atletico defender Jean Francois Hernandez and brother of current Colchoneros squad member Lucas Hernandez said he was planning on returning to the Calderon outfit next summer.
"At the moment it is not a good idea for me to even think about that," Theo said. "I leave it in the hands of my agent. What I must do is keep playing the same and keep improving.
"In this sense I am very relaxed, and thinking only about Deportivo Alaves. I also think of next season, but knowing that in the summer I will return to [Atletico]. I watch all their games, and now in June I will be returning there. I am very happy and motivated for that."
Fellow Alaves youngster Marcos Alonso was not allowed face his parent club Real Madrid this season, but Atletico have no such clauses in loan agreements, so Theo said he is eager for Saturday's game and feels Alaves will get the three points.
"I am really looking forward to it," he said. "All my teammates are, but me especially as I missed the [1-1 in August] at the Calderon, so that makes me even more motivated. We are going to win the game.
"Although Atleti are my team, at the moment I belong to Deportivo Alaves and I want to win. We must go out believing that we can do it."
The lifelong Colchonero said he would not celebrate if he gets his first goal for the Basque team though:
"No, no, never. Deep down Atleti is my team, and although I am very happy in Vitoria, if I score I will not celebrate it," he said.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan