Kun kicks off new end-of-season crisis at Atlético

For Atlético Madrid to enjoy one full day of post-season stability was a good effort all round, in retrospect. A stiff upper lip, brave little soldier, "here, have a lollipop" style 'good effort'.

True, the club were already beginning to hunt for a manager who was either insane, poor or self-deluded enough to take over from the departing Quique Sánchez Flores; and true, the capital city club’s 2011/12 season is now set to start at the end of the July, most probably in the backwaters of Belarus (or Stoke...), after a seventh place finish meant Atlético enter next season's Europa League at the third qualifying round, a tournament the they won just twelve months ago.

And of course, we mustn’t overlook the endless speculation surrounding the future the sporting director Jesús García Pitarch not to mention Diego “La Rubia” Forlán’s super sulk, the ongoing feuds between the club’s two owners, or the future of goalkeeper David De Gea.

However, this relative sea of tranquility suddenly got a little choppy at 18.40 on a sultry Monday evening, when Kun Agüero clambered onto his booster seat and sped out of the Vicente Calderón car park - which also doubles as the press mixed zone - having told his bosses that he would very much like to leave Atlético Madrid as soon as possible, despite signing a contract extension in February for two more years past 2012.

“I want to stay till 2014, but football is as it is and I could be here one, two or three years,” explained Kun earlier in the season, leaving out the words ‘or three months’ from the end of his sentence.


Alarm bells should have started ringing when the striker’s buy-out clause was reduced from €60 million to the more Madrid-friendly €45 million. From that moment, the clock was ticking on Kun’s Atlético career - the player even explained on his website that the contract was extended to ensure Atlético would recoup as much money as possible from his sale. “I told Atlético that I wanted to leave. I told them to study, without conditions, offers from other clubs.”

Having probed an infamously unreliable Atleti insider for a suggestion as to what the Argentine’s next move could be, LLL understands Real Madrid to be the Argentine's favourite destination, despite the day-to-day hassle of a cross city betrayal.

This is said to be at least partly down to the willingness of both teams to arrange a sticker album style swap deal, which would enable Atlético to avoid paying quite as big a chunk of the fee to the taxman and give Real Madrid the chance to offload the likes Pedro León and maybe even José Jedwood Callejón, who was only signed from Espanyol on Monday. Throw Esteban Granero, Sergio Canales, Ezequiel Garay into the mix and Atlético could have an instant squad expansion and their counterparts are able to make a bit of space in the dressing room for next season.

Of course, all this could be - and indeed probably is - complete tosh, but it sounds crazy enough to be true. After all, the departing Quique described Atlético as “like a plane in constant turbulence."

The only thing that’s completely clear is that Kun Agüero played his final official game for Atlético Madrid on Saturday night against Mallorca, during which he grabbed a rather brilliant hat-trick to take his La Liga tally for the season to 20 - his best ever Primera season on the goalscoring front - and 101 in his Atlético career.

The Argentine striker is looking for and deserves regular Champions League football, having put in five solid seasons at the Vicente Calderón. The manner of Kun’s departure may irk Atleti fans - especially if it ends with an arrival at the Santiago Bernabeu - but that shouldn’t tinge what has been a ripsnorting ride with Rojiblancos.