Atletico Madrid had been operating under the assumption that their appeal against their transfer ban would be successful. They even went as far as to verbally agree to sign Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon, pending the outcome of the appeal. Turns out that assumption, as assumptions often tend to be, was wrong. After a bit of confusion on Wednesday, CAS have reduced the financial penalty but officially upheld the ban on Thursday.
In a statement, Atletico have expressed their disappointment with the decision, slamming the act as unfair and discriminatory and on that “causes an irreparable damage” to the club. In a similar case, Real Madrid’s ban was reduced to cover just one transfer window. While Atletico are technically not prevented from signing new players this summer, they cannot register them with FIFA until January 2018. Any player they sign this summer won’t be able to play for them for six months. Even at a massive club like Barcelona, this sort of arrangement could only tempt the odd player or two to make the switch (Arda Turan, then, ironically, of Atletico, and Aleix Vidal).
So why do we care? We care largely because of Diego Costa, who recently dropped the bombshell that the only two teams he’d consider playing for at the moment are Chelsea and Atletico. Atleti responded by throwing their doors open but not their purse strings — £20m was never going to get this done. Now, none of that really matters. The Costa narrative was already trending towards him staying, with an extension, even, in the works. Now that looks all but a certainty.
In possibly related effects, Chelsea’s pursuit of Romelu Lukaku probably has taken a hit as well, probably more so than Everton’s outrageous £100m valuation of the former Chelsea man. While some rumors have claimed that Chelsea’s pursuit of Lukaku (or another big-money striker) is not dependent on Costa, the competition we face for the Belgian big man just got much stronger.
Manchester United had been prioritizing Antoine Griezmann, but that interest has now apparently cooled. Whether that’s a direct result of the ban (and thus Atletico’s renewed determination to keep their best players) or something else (Zlatan wasn’t going to be around forever, after all) is fairly academical. Griezmann does have a release clause, but he still would have to agree personal terms. If United are ready to make a big play at Lukaku then as the long-term solution, Chelsea could be left in their dust.
UPDATE: Yep, Griezmann ain’t going anywhere.
Another knock-on effect could see changes in the futures of the aforementioned Lacazette and perhaps even the lovely Corentin Tolisso. Lacazette was set to join Atletico, but that’s probably not happening now. He might stay until January (and thus perhaps allow Tolisso to leave easily), or he might join some other team instead (Arsenal, for example). The ban also helps teams like Everton, who had been competing with Atletico over the signature of Sandro Ramirez. For more on the Atletico perspective, be sure to check out our friends at Into the Calderon.