Theo Hernández, product of the Atlético Madrid youth system, brother of Atlético player and son of an ex-Atlético player, went through his medical yesterday at Sanitas La Moraleja, the final step ahead of signing for Real Madrid. It is the conclusion to an operation that for some weeks has been taken for granted. The player wanted to go to Real Madrid, with people saying that he was unhappy to go unnoticed at Atlético, who kept him in the 'juvenil' team, not even promoting him to the 'B' side. This year he was pushed out on loan to Alavés, but has exploded into a top player and that put him into a position where he could decide his own future.
Atlético earn fair fee, but timing boils blood
This transfer sees the end of a gentleman's agreement in which Madrid committed to not taking anyone off Atlético's books, no matter the category. This pact led Madrid to abstain in the past, for example with Sergio Agüero. Theo's case actually saw Atleti try to scupper the move, promoting Barcelona as an alternative (a club that had also shown interest), as well as Liverpool and Bayern Munich. But the inevitable happened, an agreement to move to Madrid for 30 million euros, six million more than his release clause stated. This means Atlético were not sucker-punched with a clause, instead selling for more, but the announcement on the eve of the Champions League tie raise some hackles.
Theo can be Marcelo's successor
From Madrid's perspective I believe it's a great signing. Zidane already has a world-beater in Marcelo in that position, but Theo is ten years younger. He has time on his side to acclimatise himself, to be part of the rotation and, when his day comes, make the position his own. Coentrao, needless to say, doesn't count. Theo wanted to sign for Madrid and Atlético accepted the inevitable. But it's an inopportune moment to make the announcement with the semi-final looming. It feels, once again, like a "tell me what it feels like" message. This exact process could have been actioned next Monday, without dropping another layer of atmosphere on a match that is already full of Atlético emotions.