Atletico Madrid move ahead of Napoli in race to sign Real Madrid outcast

Published on: 14 July 2019

Napoli have lost ground in their attempts to bring in Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez, with cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid now the favourites.

The Partenopei had identified the Colombia international as a marquee signing and lengthy negotiations looked to be reaching a positive conclusion.

However, Marca report that a failure to agree on a way to structure the payments of a transfer thought to be worth €42 million had led to Real Madrid officials growing increasingly frustrating, paving the way for Atletico to swoop.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis looking to secure James on a loan with a view to a permanent deal next summer, whilst Real Madrid are determined to complete the sale immediately.

The delays have allowed Atleti coach Diego Simeone to contact the former Porto star and lay out his plans to build his team around the attacking midfielder, with initial talks believed to have been positive.

In danger of missing out on their key target, a crowd of Napoli supporters gathered ahead of the club’s preseason friendly against Benevento on Saturday to demand De Laurentiis finalise the deal.

Having fallen out of favour in the Spanish capital, 28-year-old James spent the past two seasons on loan at German champions Bayern Munich. The former Monaco star has represented Colombia on 76 occasions, scoring 22 goals.