Atletico Madrid have all-but completed the signing of Rodrigo de Paul from Udinese, with an announcement expected this month.
The midfielder has long been linked with a move away from the Serie A club. Leeds United are among a host of Premier League sides who have been interested in the past.
De Paul enjoyed another impressive season last in 2020/21, registering nine goals and 12 assists in 38 appearances. He also racked up the second most progressive yards and the most successful dribbles in Serie A.
According to Fabrizio Romano, Atletico have won the race for De Paul’s signature, with the player setting Los Rojiblancos back €35m (£30m).
It is expected that he will sign a five-year contract in Madrid with an announcement expected before the end of July.
De Paul will become Diego Simeone’s second signing of the transfer window after young striker Marcos Paulo, whose arrival from Fluminense will also be confirmed imminently.
There are likely to be more comings and goings before deadline day as well. Long serving midfielder Saul Niguez could depart this summer with Bayern Munich and Liverpool both credited with an interest. Saul only made 22 La Liga starts last season, a decrease from 35 during the 2019/2020 campaign. This has convinced him that it is time to move on.
De Paul could prove be a direct replacement for Saul. Although capable of operating in either wide forward berth, he spent the majority of this season playing in a central midfield three. His principal strength is dribbling but De Paul is an underrated presence out of possession and should have no problem adjusting to Simeone’s defensive demands.
Atletico will be hoping his arrival helps them successfully defend the La Liga title next season. They finished two points clear at the top of the table last term but with both Clasico clubs set to strengthen, holding onto their lead could prove challenging.