The Arsenal striker Jose Antonio Reyes' hopes of a move to Madrid were revived last night with an unexpected twist - the Spanish capital's second team, Atletico, were the club negotiating his departure from England.
An Atletico Madrid representative, Miguel Angel Gil Marin, is believed to have met Arsenal officials before the Gunners' Champions' League qualifier second leg with Dynamo Zagreb at the Emirates Stadium last night in an attempt to close the deal before the start of the Spanish season this weekend.
Atletico have spent around £30m on new players after last season's disastrous La Liga campaign when they failed even to qualify for the Uefa Cup. The club's new manager, Javier Aguirre, who last season guided Osasuna to fourth in the table, is keen on signing Reyes.
The major stumbling block will be Arsenal's £15m asking price, with Atletico starting their bidding at just £8m and unlikely to raise it far beyond £10m. Atletico could include the Bulgarian winger Martin Petrov as part of the deal but are believed to be counting on two factors to help to persuade the English side to accept their offer - Real Madrid and Fernando Torres.
Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has made public his contempt for the manner in which Real have unsettled Reyes this summer. Atletico are hoping that selling Reyes to Real's city rivals may be an added incentive for Arsenal.
They are also believed to be willing to give Arsenal first option on Torres should he decide to leave the club next season. The Spain striker has been linked with moves to Manchester United and Milan.
* Milan last night offered Real Madrid £15m for the Brazilian striker Ronaldo. The bid is said to be £2m less than Madrid's asking price for the three-times world player of the year.Reuse content