Rodrigo Riquelme has signed a new long-term Atletico Madrid contract with a £55 million buy-out clause. But the Spanish schemer could still be a Celtic player by the time the transfer window slams shut.
While the ink may be drying on a new contract with the 2014 La Liga champions, do not make the mistake in assuming that Diego Simeone is ready to throw this unproven 20-year-old in at the deep end.
The situation is this: Riquelme’s contract was due to expire in 2021.
And Atletico were desperate to avoid losing one of their most exciting prospects for absolutely nothing. Handing him a new deal, complete with a massive release-clause, is a way to protect their asset and their finances.
Marca adds that Riquelme will be immediately farmed out on loan after catching the eye during a dazzling trial period at Reading.
North of the border, a Celtic side who set Odsonne Edouard, Virgil van Dijk and Moussa Dembele on the path to stardom are keen to give another rough diamond a polish (Mundo Deportivo).
If Riquelme makes an impression away from the Wanda Metropolitano, Atletico should, in theory, be able to sell the Madrid-born starlet for a substantial fee. Just like bitter rivals Real have done with Achraf Hakimi, Oscar Rodriguez and, once he completes his move to Tottenham, Sergio Reguilon.
Interestingly, Riquelme has been likened to a former Celtic play-maker – the Brazilian baller Juninho.
“Juninho? The Brazilian was lighter but Riquelme has a fast change of pace, and Juno didn’t have that power,” Miguel Angel Ruiz, Atletico’s former academy director, told Goal recently.
“His change of pace is brutal and is something that could differentiate himself with others in his age group. He has speed, change of pace and ability to overpower an opponent in one-on-one situations.”
Celtic’s record transfer sales
£25 million (Arsenal)
£19.7 million (Lyon)
£12.5 million (Southampton)
Virgil van Dijk
£11.5 million (Southampton)
£10 million (Southampton)