Musings: Change may not all be good at Atlético Madrid

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No doubt, plenty of changes await as Atlético Madrid prepares for its move next summer from its longtime home at Estadio Vicente Calderón to a larger venue that was the centerpiece for Madrid’s three unsuccessful Olympic bids.

Now, though, questions arise whether the move also will force changes on the pitch.

A report in Britain’s Independent suggests the club’s complex and debt-laden finances may force Atlético to sell some of its highest priced players, including French scorer Antoine Griezmann and homegrown midfielders Koke and Saúl Ñíguez.

Just those three alone would bring in excess of 200 million Euros on the transfer market. Manchester United already is said to be targeting Griezmann – if a ban on Atlético transfers is lifted before next season.

Atlético, which lost last year’s Champions League final in penalty kicks to Real Madrid, holds down a share of fourth as the La Liga season reached its midway point this weekend. Check out live Atlético Madrid betting odds for Spanish football.

It was just three years ago, too, that Atlético celebrated a La Liga championship in a triumph of chemistry over the riches of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.

Heady times, certainly, but even without spending at the level of Barcelona and Real, management at Los Colchoneros has been running considerable red ink for more than a decade. Redeveloping the stadium site, located in Madrid’s central city, has been seen as a method of relieving the debt.

Meantime, Madrid’s city council has been keen to find a use for its 73,000-seat stadium that’s been lying idle after being refurbished as part of the city’s failed bids for the 2012, 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games.

With the help of Chinese investors at the Wanda Group and Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, funds finally were secured to speed up moving plans. According to the Independent report, though, a loan of 160 million Euros from Slim’s bank Inbursa must be paid back quickly or the Mexican could gain control of the club’s shares.

The new venue, meanwhile, would be renamed the “Wanda Metropolitano” after the Chinese investors bought naming rights.