Atlético Madrid’s Argentine contingent has shrunk considerably in recent months and following the departures of Matías Kranevitter, Augusto Fernández and Luciano Vietto, midfielder Nicolás Gaitán becomes the latest shipped out by manager Diego Simeone.
Gaitán’s departure comes as no surprise after failing to ever really make an impact with Atleti and slipping out of Simeone’s plans almost completely this season but after links to various Premier League clubs, Liga MX sides and even a return to Boca Juniors, Gaitán is set to join Chinese Super League outfit Dalian Yifang.
Atlético confirmed the transfer on Monday, writing on the official site: “From Atlético, we wish to thank his commitment while wearing the Rojiblanco colours. We say goodbye to a great footballer who always worked hard for this club.”
While the transfer fee is officially undisclosed, it is reported that the Chinese club have paid €18 million for the 30-year-old, far more than any of the interested parties from elsewhere were previously willing to pay.
Acuerdo con Dalian Yifang para el traspaso de @CarrascoY21 y @nicogaitan.
¡Buena suerte en vuestra nueva etapa! ¡Gracias, Yannick y Nico!
➡ https://t.co/f3nPNREaIw pic.twitter.com/L6CBMePFkF
— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) February 26, 2018
Having fallen out of favour in Madrid, Gaitán’s hopes of making Argentina’s World Cup squad already looked slim but must now be even further diminished.
Despite his wonderful form at Benfica over a period of six years earning him a €25 million move to Atleti in June 2016, Gaitán has managed only 49 appearances, the vast majority as a substitute.
With a route back into the plans of Simeone looking highly unlikely, Gaitán needed a move away but for a talented, winger, capable of scoring goals, the former Boca midfielder still looked like he had a great deal to offer in Europe.
No side would be willing to match the offer from Dalian Yifang and so Atleti receive an excellent price and the newly promoted Chinese club get a player capable of shining in the top flight.
Gaitán joined his new club with Atleti teammate Yannick Carrasco, a move that leaves Diego Simeone with only 17 senior outfield players until the end of the season.