In what has already been a crazy week in terms of transfer rumours for Atlético Madrid, things took another turn this week as reports surfaced of an Atleti deal to sign André Carrillo from Benfica in another €25 million deal.
Like Nico Gaitán, Carrillo has enjoyed a successful spell with Benfica and the Portguese outfit will be sorry to see him go.
Wait… what? He hasn’t ever played for Benfica? And he currently plays for Sporting? And he turned down the chance to sign for Atlético before? What the hell is going on?!
Let’s try and explain it, with the help of David Pritchett, Editor-in-Chief of Planet Benfica, an English language Benfica blog which you should all check out!
Q – Who is André Carrillo? Is he any good?
David: André Carrillo is a 24-year old Peruvian international that will join Benfica on a free transfer from Sporting Lisbon on July 1st. He is a winger known for his pace and trickery, and is nicknamed ‘The Snake’ due to his ability to glide effortlessly past defenders.
He showed flashes of brilliance in his first three seasons at Sporting, before adding genuine consistency to his game in 2014/15.
Q – Sounds good so far – but he’s already signed for Benfica, right? So what’s the story there?
Despite Carrillo’s excellent form on the pitch, his relationship with the Sporting hierarchy was strained, and in September 2015, it reached breaking point. After nearly 18 months of unsuccessful contract negotiations, Sporting President Bruno de Carvalho took the drastic measure of suspending the player.
He argued that Carrillo had ‘intentionally damaged the club’ by refusing to sign a new contract and rejecting a big-money move to an English club, reportedly Leicester City. The player remains in exile. He agreed his sensational switch to Benfica in February.
Q – How big a player would he have been for Benfica? Gaitán mentioned that Carrillo could be seen as his successor?
He certainly would have been an asset, but he is not irreplaceable. Benfica should start next season with an array of talented wingers on their books, like Salvio and Pizzi.
If anything, Benfica could be dodging a bullet by offloading Carrillo, as he has been portrayed as something of a mercenary with a questionable attitude.
Q – Why do you think André Carrillo turned down Atlético in the first place?
It doesn’t make much sense to me, why would Atlético be interested in a player that snubbed them just three months ago? The rumoured fee of €25 million is also scarcely believable, especially as Carrillo hasn’t kicked a ball in anger since September.
Simeone likes players that are willing to bleed for the cause, and the Peruvian just doesn’t strike me as that type of player.
Q – €25 million for a player thats never put on a Benfica shirt – that must be a result for you guys?
It would represent a massive coup for Benfica. The club stand to make a €20 million profit on someone that has cost them just a couple of business lunches and around €5 million in transfer incentives for the player and his agent. Throw a loan for Diogo Jota into the mix and the transaction just seems too good to be true. Last but not least, the transfer would be a huge slap in the face for Sporting Lisbon, which is never a bad thing for a Benfica fan!
Q – Lastly, any parting thoughts on the potential Nico Gaitán transfer? We know it’s not 100 per cent yet but would be good to hear what we’ve potentially got to look forward to!
Gaitán is one of the most gifted and creative players I have ever had the pleasure of watching. It is pretty miraculous that Benfica have managed to hold on to him for so long.
He will bring goals, assists, tricks and flicks to whichever club wins the race for his signature. In his six seasons in Lisbon, he has added consistency, discipline and leadership to his game, so he leaves the club as the complete package.
The only question mark with the Argentinean is his fitness, as he has spent a lot of time on the sidelines this season.