Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone says Wolfsburg midfielder Diego is his primary transfer target this summer.
Atletico have long hoped to seal a permanent return for the Brazilian playmaker who spent a successful 2011-12 season on loan at the Estadio Vicente Calderon. However, the Bundesliga side’s wish to recoup most of the €15 million they paid Juventus for him in 2010, and the player’s own hefty salary demands, have so far stymied a move.
Nonetheless the Argentine coach told AS that he both hoped and expected Diego, 28, would be back at Atletico in time for next season’s kick-off.
“Diego is the only player I have asked the club for,” Simeone said. “I know the effort they are making for him. And also what Diego is putting in to come here. We are close, I hope he can come.”
Atletico are also in the market for a centre-forward this summer, with last season’s top scorer Radamel Falcao having left for Monaco last month and have been linked with a long list of potential targets ranging from Liverpool's Luis Suarez and Sevilla's Alvaro Negredo, through Manchester City's Edin Dzeko and Aston Villa's Christian Benteke, to Porto's Jackson Martinez and Galatasaray's Burak Yilmaz.
Simeone said that, given his side’s tactical approach, the Colombian’s replacement would need to be a similarly specialist finisher.
“We can talk about characteristics, because there are various names,” he said. “Whoever comes will surely be good. We need a ‘killer’ for how we play. Because we have a ‘collapsed’ [tight] midfield with Koke, Arda, Diego maybe bringing some fantasy, Adrian... we need goals, and that is not easy to find.”
Choosing the ideal goalkeeper for next season was easier, Simeone said, as he he wanted Thibaut Courtois back on loan from Chelsea. “We want and we need Courtois to stay with us,” he said.