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Jul 20, 2014

Transfer Talk: Atletico Madrid's summer so far

Mario Mandzukic has arrived from Bayern Munich and will need to hit the ground running as Atleti look to replace Diego Costa.

With the transfer window in full swing, ESPNFC's Atletico Madrid blogger Joseph Walker discusses how Diego Simeone's side are shaping up ahead of the new season.

IN -- Miguel Angel Moya (Getafe, three million Euros), Guilherme Siqueira (Granada, 10 million Euros), Angel Correa (San Lorenzo, eight million Euros), Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich, 22 million Euros), Jan Oblak (Benfica, 16 million Euros).

OUT -- Adrian Lopez (Porto, 11 million Euros), Filipe Luis (Chelsea, 24 million Euros), Diego Costa (Chelsea, 32.5 million Euros), Sergio Asenjo (Villarreal, four million Euros), Tiago Mendes (Free transfer), Dani Aranzubia (Free transfer), David Villa (New York City, free)

Expected budget

Money is always a sensitive one for Atleti. Years of financial mismanagement have meant transfer budgets over recent years have been tight but the introduction of third-party investment funds have helped Los Rojiblancos sign up some top talents over the past few campaigns.

Diego Simeone will more than likely be given a small amount by the board for transfers, however the caveat for this is the club will generate a healthy amount from player sales, Champions League revenue and the riches associated with winning last season's La Liga. This, in turn, will be reinvested into the squad, with the realistic possibility that the club will come out with a tidy profit.

Rate your business so far

8/10 -- High praise indeed considering it is only July, however as previously mentioned the club are managing to fund their summer transfer activity without having to dip into their own coffers. Getting Chelsea to meet the buyout clauses of Diego Costa and Filipe Luis shows their powerful negotiating position, while convincing Porto that bench-warmer Adrian Lopez is worth 11 million Euros was nothing short of a miracle.

In Mario Mandzukic and Guilherme Siqueira the club have found two players of a very similar ilk to the Premier League-bound duo, meaning two of last season's star players have been replaced and the club have actually made money. Very smart business.

Perhaps the biggest loss from last season was the inevitable return of Thibaut Courtois to Stamford Bridge but Jan Oblak is an able replacement.

Chelsea have taken Courtois back from his loan spell following a succesful stint in Spain with Atleti.

Who should be sold?

The Atletico squad is thin on the ground and there is not a great amount of deadwood in there. Someone who will more than likely leave is Joshua Guilavogui; a curious purchase for 10 million Euros last summer.

One stumbling block could well be the fee Atleti would demand for him (he is a full France international after all) and therefore a loan deal or using him as a makeweight in a transfer might be more likely.

Cristian "Cebolla" Rodriguez is someone the club might look to move on should a suitable offer arrive while Toby Alderweireld had a good World Cup and has many admirers in England.

Who should be signed?

With exciting talent Juan Iturbe joining Roma (after several Spanish news outlets had said he was Atleti bound), attention seems to have switched to Argentina international Nicolas Gaitan of Benfica, with both the Portuguese and Spanish press saying a deal is close for the forward.

The side need more numbers in attacking positions and Alessio Cerci has been tracked, however Torino are playing hardball in the hope that they can start a bidding war. Sevilla left back Alberto Moreno has recently emerged as a top target, while Argentine utility fullback Cristian Ansaldi is another man on Diego Simeone's radar as he looks to add numbers to the squad.

Problem solving: What do you need?

Atleti's main problem is a combination of numbers and quality up top. Despite the arrival of Mandzukic, the trio of Diego Costa, David Villa and Adrian Lopez have all left the club, meaning the Croatia player is the club's only recognised central striker.

Step forward Romelu Lukaku. The striker is keen to play in the Champions League and has proven his goalscoring pedigree in England even if he did not enjoy the best of times in Brazil. With Jose Mourinho seemingly not rating the youngster, coupled with the fact Atleti have a friendly relationship with Chelsea (they have sold them half of their team!) a deal could be done either on a permanent or temporary basis.