Spanish newspaper Marca has reported that Atletico Madrid are hot on the trail of Hamburg’s Milan Badelj.
It could be the biggest giveaway sign yet that Atletico are happy to let Chelsea secure a deal, which would see former Blue Tiago return to Stamford Bridge for the final chunk of his career.
“Badelj is one of the names on the shortlist that the 'Rojiblancos' have drawn up to replace Tiago, who has decided not to renew his contract at Atlético. The Croat is in a similar mould to the Portuguese anchorman, though he is slightly more attack-minded,” reports Marca.
Tiago, 33-years-old, would be a positive and sensible signing for Jose Mourinho and not just because he has experience of playing at Chelsea from the past.
The Blues are losing a great deal of experience from their first team this summer with Ashley Cole on the move while Frank Lampard is being tipped to play his football in New York next season.
Tiago’s career experience could help soften the blow in Chelsea’s midfield and he’s the ideal sort of midfielder to have sandwiched in between a more defensive player like Nemanja Matic and a more creative player like Oscar.
Badelj’s move to Atletico should be relatively straight forward even though Hamburg avoided relegation to the second tier of German football last month.
The club is riddled with financial problems, which creates pressure for them to sell key players to cash in and ease that financial hurt with Badelj an obvious candidate to be sold.
Unfortunately for Atletico they can’t play hard ball with Chelsea because once Tiago’s contract expires, he’ll be a free agent and can talk to whoever he chooses.
It’s out of Diego Simeone’s hands but considering Atletico’s success last season, it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s moved quickly to try and ease the impact of losing such a key player.
It could be the first in several signings for Chelsea from Atletico Madrid, with other reports suggesting the Blues are ready to lay everything on the line with big offers for Diego Costa and defender Luis Felipe.