Atletico Madrid will attempt to fight Chelsea’s interest in Antoine Griezmann and Koke by offering the pair new contracts with increased £100million release clauses.
But Chelsea’s hopes of persuading Griezmann to turn down a new deal and push for a move to Stamford Bridge appear to have been enhanced by the decision of the Frenchman to take advice on his future from super-agent Jorge Mendes.
Chelsea are admirers of both forward Griezmann and midfielder Koke, whose current Atletico contracts include relatively modest £43m release clauses.
Having lost Diego Costa and Filipe Luis to Chelsea last summer, Atletico coach Diego Simeone is desperate for Griezmann and Koke to stay put and wants to club to safe-guard against them being poached.
Raising the buy-out clauses of the duo to £100m within new deals would almost certainly signal an end of Chelsea’s interest, but it remains to be seen whether Griezmann and Koke can be convinced to pledge their futures to Atletico.
Koke is said to be happy in Spain, but Griezmann is understood to be open to the prospect of moving to Stamford Bridge and has made moves to find out whether Chelsea’s interest is genuine before considering a new contract.
Part of that process appears to have been Griezmann employing the services of Mendes to advise him on how best to handle his next step.
The involvement of Mendes will encourage Chelsea that they can prise Griezmann away from the Vicente Calderon. The Portuguese is the agent of Blues manager Jose Mourinho and has a close relationship with the club.
Mendes helped to broker Costa’s move from Atletico to Stamford Bridge last summer and has been vital to a number of deals involving clubs Mourinho has managed.
Griezmann has scored 25 goals in all competitions for Atletico this season after signing from Real Sociedad. He can play anywhere across a front three, which fits the profile of forward Mourinho is keen to sign.
Should Griezmann decide to stay at Atletico, then Chelsea are likely to turn their attentions to Barcelona’s Pedro Rodriguez who they considered trying to sign in the January transfer window.
Mourinho wants to conduct Chelsea’s transfer business as early as possible and is targeting three new signings, with Didier Drogba, Petr Cech and Filipe Luis all poised to leave.
Luis is expected to return to Atletico, while Drogba wants to continue his playing career and will have offers from Major League Soccer in the United States.
Arsenal are leading the chase to sign goalkeeper Petr Cech, with Roma, Inter Milan and Besiktas also keen.
Mourinho has claimed he would rather keep Cech or sell him to a foreign club, but the decision is likely to lie with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich who recognises the 32-year-old is a special case and deserves recognition for accepting a number two role this season.