Atletico Madrid board want fans to ‘push Simeone out’ in ‘civil war’

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Atletico Madrid want the club’s supporters to ‘push’ long-serving head coach Diego Simeone out in favour of keeping Manchester United and Arsenal transfer target Joao Felix, according to a top Spanish journalist. A ‘civil war’ is brewing at the Spanish giants, with fans split over Simeone. 

Wide-ranging reports in Spain have talked of a fractured relationship between former Argentina midfielder Simeone and Atletico’s club-record signing Felix. The latter was signed in a huge £113million deal while still a teenager in 2019, but the striker has been far from consistent in La Liga. 

Felix has been linked with a January transfer, either on loan or departing permanently. Man Utd and Arsenal have both been linked with the Portugal international, who featured in Atletico’s defeat by Barcelona on Sunday night.  

However, Spanish journalist Guillem Balague has claimed that Atletico’s board are sensationally attempting to get the fans on Felix’s side and ‘push’ Simeone out. Sacking the 52-year-old would apparently prove difficult, though, given that they would need to pay an extortionate £22m compensation fee. 

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It was put to Balague by ITV that both individuals might have left Atletico come the summer. He responded: “Them both going, that would be a big, big thing for Atletico Madrid to happen. But quite clearly, there’s a bit of division, a civil war, even [among] the fans. 

“They’re not sure they love Simeone as much as they [did]. But they should love him, so they do love him. The club is exactly the same. 

“I think the club would like to put the fans in the position of pushing Simeone out and keeping Joao Felix in. but Simeone has got a big contract, they’ve got to pay him €25m (£22m) to leave. That’s not going to happen. 

“Meanwhile, Joao Felix, they could get a good deal – even as a loan for now. Get rid of the wages and maybe plenty of money coming [in].”

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United could be set to swerve on a winter deal for Felix. The Red Devils are instead close to signing the 30-year-old Holland striker Wout Wehgorst. 

However, that deal could prove complicated as Weghorst is on loan at Besiktas from Burnley and the Turkish giants will need to be paid compensation. Besiktas hope to bring back former player Vincent Aboubakar, who is surplus to requirements at Al-Nassr following the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Arsenal could therefore be the likeliest destination for Felix, with Mikel Arteta searching for more firepower in the Gunners’ pursuit of the Premier League title. Felix, who can also play as a midfielder, has scored five goals this season for an Atletico team who are fifth in La Liga. 

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