Atletico Madrid sign Gelson Martins from Sporting Lisbon
Atletico Madrid have signed winger Gelson Martins on a six-year contract after taking advantage of chaos at Sporting Lisbon, the Portugal international's former club.
Martins, who came through the same academy as Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo, scored 27 goals with 30 assists in 140 appearances for Sporting. He also has 19 senior caps with Portugal, including one in the World Cup victory over Morocco.
The Cape Verde-born winger, who moved on a free transfer, succeeded in getting his release from Sporting after falling out with former president Bruno Carvalho last season and an attack by more than 50 fans at the training ground in May.
"Our club is incorporating a pacy right winger who has also been deployed as a second striker and even right-back," Atletico said in a statement. "His speed and fine dribbling skills make him a valued addition to our team and a threat to the opposition's defenders."
Martins is expected to join Atletico's preseason training alongside others who were at the World Cup but did not make the final stages of the tournament, including Spain internationals Saul Niguez and Koke.
Other members of Diego Simeone's squad, including goalkeeper Jan Oblak, midfielder Thomas Partey and forward Angel Correa, flew to Singapore on Tuesday for International Champions Cup games against Arsenal on Thursday and Paris Saint-Germain on Monday.
Forwards Luciano Vietto and Kevin Gameiro are expected to feature in those games -- although Vietto had been linked with a move to Sporting Lisbon as part of a Martins transfer and Gameiro is expected to join Valencia in the coming weeks.
Martins is Atletico's fourth addition this summer, following the €70m signing of France international winger Thomas Lemar from Monaco, Spain midfielder Rodrigo's €20m return from Villarreal and goalkeeper Antonio Adan joining from Real Betis.
Sporting have also lost Rui Patricio, William Carvalho, Bryan Ruiz and Christian Piccini, as well as coach Jorge Jesus, as a result of the turmoil surrounding the club.
According to A Bola, Sporting are likely to file a grievance with FIFA seeking €15 million in compensation, which they also did when Rui Patricio moved to Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier this summer.
Speaking on arrival in Singapore ahead of Atletico's ICC games against Arsenal [Thursday] and Paris Saint Germain [Monday], coach Diego Simeone said Martins would bring competition for places and pace to the squad, as had been shown by his performances for Sporting against Atletico in last season's Europa League semifinals.
"Gelson is a lad who's constantly improving," Simeone said. "We saw it last year and his characteristics can help us. He'll give us competition for places on the right wing and in attack if we play with three up front. He brings us pace, which is very important in today's football."
Atletico's upcoming schedule also includes another ICC game against Inter Milan at their Wanda Metropolitano stadium on Aug. 11, and a fourth friendly at Stuttgart on Aug. 5, ahead of the UEFA Supercup against Real Madrid in Tallinn on Aug. 15. All around the club also hope that their campaign then ends with participation in the Champions League final at the Wanda Metropolitano on June 1, 2019.
"A year is beginning from which Atletico Madrid fans expect a lot," Simeone said. "I am happy to be returning to such a nice competition. For many years we have been working as a club to get to this level -- the club is growing and reaching important places. We are competing against two top clubs. We always take things game by game and the important thing is to play well tomorrow against Arsenal. I feel that the club is growing strongly and that brings growth in the team. There is evidence -- like the stadium, and our ability to compete in our own way with the best around. That brings enthusiasm."