Al-Ahli has made a bid for Atletico Madrid midfielder and World Cup winner Rodrigo De Paul
Diego Simeone spoke to DAZN after his Atlético Madrid team drew 0-0 against Real Betis on a steamy Sunday night in Seville.
“The transfer market is very difficult. There are two weeks left and absolutely everything can happen. Two or three players who have started the game, an offer worth millions to them can come from somewhere, and they leave before the end of the window. You have to accept it.”
Simeone is apprehensive when the summer transfer window closes, and this year is no exception, especially since Saudi Pro League clubs have changed the European market through 2023.
Several Simeone players have been linked to a move to the Middle East. Rumors of Yannick Carrasco moving there haven’t died down completely, and another of El Cholo’s top players has apparently considered playing in Saudi Arabia.
Rodrigo de Paul is the target of Saudi heavyweights Al-Ahli, one of the four teams run by the country’s Public Investment Fund (an arm of the monarchy).
This summer, Al-Ahli appointed Matthias Jaissle as head coach and signed Merih Demiral, Roberto Firmino, Roger Ibaez, Franck Kessié, Riyad Mahrez, Edouard Mendy, and Allen Saint-Maximin as part of a €140 million buying spree.
But de Paul would have to be Al-Ahli’s most expensive investment to date. De Paul had two goals and seven assists in LaLiga last season, but his future at Atlético has been uncertain.
Despite having submitted an official bid, not to mention an annual salary of close to €15 million, Al-Ahli is said to be rejecting the move and staying put.
De Paul joined Atlético from Udinese in a €35 million trade two years ago, and he has a contract through 2026. Argentina’s star had a hit-or-miss first season in Madrid, with speculations of his leaving gaining traction during his dismal first half of the 2022/23 season.
After the World Cup, though, de Paul appeared to be one of Atletico’s most expensive signings ever. Only Antoine Griezmann had more goal-creating moves in La Liga than de Paul’s 11 in his final seven appearances last season, enabling Los Rojiblancos finish third.
It would be surprising if Atlético sold de Paul for a €3 million loss two summers after spending big to get him. Indeed, Marca claimed on Monday that Atleti will not seriously contemplate selling de Paul unless Al-Ahli considerably raises its offer (“€80-90 million,” according to the Madrid-based daily).
And de Paul has repeatedly indicated in interviews his wish to remain in the Spanish capital.
However, in this sport, things can change rapidly, and de Paul is entering a pivotal season in his Atlético career. Fans have never truly accepted him, and despite the fact that Simeone sought his signing, he has never been sure where to best deploy his compatriot.
De Paul’s form was erratic at best until the year 2023, when rumors circulated that Italian clubs wanted to bring him back to Serie A.
Atletico still want funds from someplace in order to buy Simeone’s preferred defensive midfielder, who is highly rumored to be Tottenham’s Denmark international Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.