Kun kicks off new end-of-season crisis at Atlético
For AtlÃÂ©tico 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 SÃÂ¡nchez Flores; and true, the capital city clubÃ¢ÂÂs 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 AtlÃÂ©tico enter next season's Europa League at the third qualifying round, a tournament the they won just twelve months ago.
And of course, we mustnÃ¢ÂÂt overlook the endless speculation surrounding the future the sporting director JesÃÂºs GarcÃÂa Pitarch not to mention Diego Ã¢ÂÂLa RubiaÃ¢ÂÂ ForlÃÂ¡nÃ¢ÂÂs super sulk, the ongoing feuds between the clubÃ¢ÂÂs 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 AgÃÂ¼ero clambered onto his booster seat and sped out of the Vicente CalderÃÂ³n car park - which also doubles as the press mixed zone - having told his bosses that he would very much like to leave AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid as soon as possible, despite signing a contract extension in February for two more years past 2012.
Ã¢ÂÂI want to stay till 2014, but football is as it is and I could be here one, two or three years,Ã¢ÂÂ explained Kun earlier in the season, leaving out the words Ã¢ÂÂor three monthsÃ¢ÂÂ from the end of his sentence.
"Hug me! LOOOOOOOOOOVE ME!!!"
Alarm bells should have started ringing when the strikerÃ¢ÂÂs buy-out clause was reduced from Ã¢ÂÂ¬60 million to the more Madrid-friendly Ã¢ÂÂ¬45 million. From that moment, the clock was ticking on KunÃ¢ÂÂs AtlÃÂ©tico career - the player even explained on his website that the contract was extended to ensure AtlÃÂ©tico would recoup as much money as possible from his sale. Ã¢ÂÂI told AtlÃÂ©tico that I wanted to leave. I told them to study, without conditions, offers from other clubs.Ã¢ÂÂ
Having probed an infamously unreliable Atleti insider for a suggestion as to what the ArgentineÃ¢ÂÂs 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 AtlÃÂ©tico 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 LeÃÂ³n and maybe even JosÃÂ© Jedwood CallejÃÂ³n, who was only signed from Espanyol on Monday. Throw Esteban Granero, Sergio Canales, Ezequiel Garay into the mix and AtlÃÂ©tico 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 AtlÃÂ©tico as Ã¢ÂÂlike a plane in constant turbulence."
The only thing thatÃ¢ÂÂs completely clear is that Kun AgÃÂ¼ero played his final official game for AtlÃÂ©tico 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 AtlÃÂ©tico career.
The Argentine striker is looking for and deserves regular Champions League football, having put in five solid seasons at the Vicente CalderÃÂ³n. The manner of KunÃ¢ÂÂs departure may irk Atleti fans - especially if it ends with an arrival at the Santiago Bernabeu - but that shouldnÃ¢ÂÂt tinge what has been a ripsnorting ride with Rojiblancos.