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May 29, 2014

Atletico don't need to sell stars

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone has admitted he aspires to manage the country he earned 106 caps for, Argentina, at some point in his career.

Atletico Madrid chief executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin says any bigger, richer clubs looking to take his side's stars -- such as Manchester United who are reportedly pursuing centre-back Joao Miranda -- will have to pay the full release clauses to complete any transfer.

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Speculation in Spain has linked United with a move for Brazil international Miranda, who has a 30 million-euro release clause, with AS claiming Atletico had already begun the process of sounding out replacement defenders.

Given Atletico are over 500 million euros in debt, and having cut a strict deal with the Spanish government over huge tax arrears, it has been widely assumed that the club would look to cash in this summer on at least some of its most saleable assets -- including top scorer Diego Costa and homegrown midfielder Koke.

However Gil Marin, despite recently revealing to Bloomberg - that he had mortgaged his own house as collateral on a club loan, told Atletico's official website in his end of season review that he was under no pressure to raise funds this summer and would prefer to hang on to his best players.

"Fortunately this club does not need to sell any of its players," Gil Marin said. "Those who do not want to continue with us we can only go along with their release clause in their contracts.

"We are not going to negotiate with other clubs about the departure of players we want to stay in our team. We do not want, nor do we need, to sell any player. Whoever wants to leave Atletico must do so against the wishes of Atletico."

Gil Marin said he understood some players would feel they deserved pay-rises after winning the Liga title and reaching the Champions League final, and Atletico's directors were prepared to discuss new deals.

"We understand the interest of clubs in our players, after the great season we have had," Gil Marin said. "We also understand that these players want to improve [their contracts], and we are prepared to improve those conditions, within our own possibilities."

Meanwhile, a number of last season's Atletico squad -- including David Villa, Jose Sosa, Tiago Mendes and Dani Aranzubia -- are out of contract this summer and have not agreed new deals to stay at the Calderon.

One player who appears definitely leaving is Brazilian playmaker Diego Ribas, who has been heavily linked with Turkish champions Fenerbahce, and who has issued a statement saying he is on his way.

"I am leaving happy and proud with the security that, once more, I have given everything to help the team," Diego said via Instagram. "From today I no longer play for Atletico, but I will always be a fan of this club. Aupa Atleti."

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