Atletico Madrid sign Sevilla's Vitolo, loan him to Las Palmas
Atletico Madrid have confirmed the signing of Vitolo from Sevilla in a deal that saw the Spain winger trigger his €37.5 million release clause and will see him now spend the first half of the 2017-18 season on loan at Las Palmas.
Atletico have been tracking Victor Machin Perez, known as Vitolo, all summer despite being unable to register players until next January due to a FIFA imposed transfer ban. And it had seemed only last Monday that he was set to remain at Sevilla when the club's president Jose Castro told reporters that a new improved contract at the Sanchez Pizjuan had been agreed.
However, the 27-year-old visited La Liga's offices in Madrid on Wednesday morning accompanied by a Las Palmas director, and Atletico confirmed the details in a club statement soon afterwards.
"Atletico Madrid have reached an agreement with Victor Machin Perez, Vitolo, for the next five years after the player rescinded his contract with Sevilla Futbol Club," a club statement read. "As a consequence of the FIFA ban which stops the club from registering any players during the current summer transfer window, the player will play the first half of next season at Union Deportiva Las Palmas and will join up with us from 1 January 2018. The Spain international has signed with our club until 30 June 2022."
Las Palmas also confirmed their involvement in the deal with a club statement welcoming their former player.
On Monday, Castro had said Vitolo had agreed a new long-term contract with the club which included a significant pay-rise, and criticised the behaviour of "other clubs" through recent weeks.
Things took another twist on Tuesday when Marca photographers caught Vitolo leaving Madrid's Barajas airport, with the player apparently having changed his mind following a conversation with Rojiblanco coach Diego Simeone, and Las Palmas' Patricio Vinayo was spotted visiting La Liga's headquarters in the capital before Vitolo himself also visited on Wednesday morning.
Vitolo was due to join Sevilla's preseason training on Wednesday, ahead of the squad's flight to Japan on Thursday. Local media in Andalusia say the Sanchez Pizjuan hierarchy are considering what legal steps they can now take against either the player or other clubs involved.
"Vitolo cannot play for Sevilla again," ex-Sevilla captain Pablo Alfaro said on "El Larguero" radio show on Tuesday night. "I don't know if he can even set foot in Seville again."
Vitolo joined Sevilla from Las Palmas for just €3m in summer 2013, and reports had claimed that the Canary islanders were to receive 12.5 percent of any future sale, meaning they would now be due approximately €5m in total out of the latest deal.
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