Another day brings another piece of outstanding business from Atletico Madrid.
Out went excellent Croatia right-back Sime Vrsaljko on Wednesday, “happy” to be back in Italy, for an initial loan to Internazionale of which a total permanent package will cost €25 million (Dh107.3m). In comes €13m (Dh55.8m) replacement Santiago Arias, fresh off a solid World Cup 2018 with Colombia and a third Eredivisie title in the last four seasons with PSV Eindhoven.
The 26-year-old is just the latest moving part brought into the flexible Los Rojiblancos machine. It is one where the names often change, but achievements keeps coming.
Previously in this pre-season, France winger Thomas Lemar was wrenched from Monaco for €60m (Dh257.5m) – approximately €40m (Dh171.6m) less than the fee Arsenal agreed upon prior to last summer’s aborted deadline day arrangement.
The disorder at Sporting Lisbon has seen promising Portugal winger Gelson Martins acquired on a free (subject to a tribunal). Youth product Rodri was allowed to grow into a Spain midfielder at Villarreal and repurchased for €20m (Dh85.8m).
Stockpiling promising talent is the name of the game. Few in Europe do it better.
Even summer 2017’s transfer ban, upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, for breaching FIFA rules over the signing of minors was successfully navigated. Deals for Spain striker Diego Costa and winger Vitolo were tied up in advance, with the season’s end bringing the Europa League.
Among the outgoings, club legend Fernando Torres was phased out prior to a denouement in Japan with Sagan Tosu.
Veteran skipper Gabi has also gone to Asia, with Qatar’s Al Sadd. In preparation, Rodri has come back and Ghana’s Thomas Partey made 33 La Liga appearances last term – the most of his career.
It is this union between head coach Diego Simeone, coveted sporting director Andrea Berta and long-serving president Enrique Cerezo that puts most peers to shame.
From the chaos of the past under controversial – to put it mildly – previous figurehead Jesus Gil has come a laser focus.
It is an approach without the peaks and troughs experienced at Chelsea. Nor the initial splurge and contrasting frugality of Monaco, or the scattergun styling of rudderless Manchester United.
No mammoth television deals prop them up, unlike at La Liga rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid. There is no benefactor like at Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain.
Since 2013 and Berta’s arrival from Genoa, the total net spend – including the prospective Vrsaljko sale – amounts to an estimated €176.1m (Dh755.6m).
In this period, they became the first non-Clasico side in a decade to win La Liga and also won the 2014 Supercopa de Espana.
They have been beaten in two Champions League finals and lifted the Europa once.
Costa has been sold and bought back from Chelsea. France superstar Antoine Griezmann has been twice convinced to stay, despite the advances of the world’s grandees.
Uruguay centre-back Jose Gimenez has blossomed since a €900,000 (Dh3.9m) switch from Danubio. Alongside him, academy products Saul Niguez and Koke have cemented spots among the continent’s elite midfielders.
Barca with Lionel Messi and Real Madrid Cristiano Ronaldo have boasted attacking threats without compare in this period, plus annual budgets hundreds of millions of euros greater.
Under Simeone, Atleti have averaged 82.6 points in La Liga since 2013/14. The proximity to Barca’s figure of 91 and Madrid’s of 87.6 is remarkable, considering the structural disadvantages at play.
And all the time while helping to part-fund the glistening, 67,703-capacity Wanda Metropolitano. Moving home and maintaining position at the top table certainly eluded the likes of Arsenal during their fractious switch to Emirates Stadium.
This is a juggling act that engenders both envy and respect.
The systemic unfairness within European club football forces lateral thinking to gain success.
In this regard, Atleti continue to show they are the true masters of the market.
The French midfielder, 23, has been widely tipped to move to Blaugrana in the summer transfer window but now appears certain to pen fresh terms with Paris Saint-Germain.
New boss Thomas Tuchel has been insistent on Rabiot staying at the Parc des Princes and the Ligue 1 giants will now offer the star a new contract, given his current deal expires in 2019.
Rabiot could now earn as much as €130,000-a-week, a significant increase on his current weekly salary.
However, Bayern have no such plans to cash in on their star player, who has spent four successful campaigns with the Bundesliga giants.
“With Robert, we clearly want to send a signal to people within and outside the club: Bayern Munich are completely different to other clubs who get weak when certain sums are mentioned,” Rummenigge told Munich-based newspaper TZ on Wednesday.
“We are completely satisfied with him, and in his position there are only a few players who are comparable.
“So it’s not in our interest to hand him over – no matter if someone puts €100million or €150 million on the table.”