Atlético looked at the center of the field in this winter market and in the end they incorporated the young man Arthur Vermeeren. He looked ahead and the idea was to sign Moise Kean, but the medical examination recommended otherwise. He looked at the goal and made a change of cards, Horatiu Moldovan by Ivo Grbic. A priori he did not look at the defense, but two days before the market closes he announced the incorporation of Gabriel Paulista.

The Brazilian central defender is the third and, in principle, last signing of the Athletic in this winter window. A temporary patch, so sign a contract of just five monthsuntil the end of this season, after leaving Valencia, the club for which he had played the last six and a half seasons.

It was not in Cholo’s plans, it is written, to shore up the defense. But both the performance of his defenders and the losses he has suffered in that area in recent weeks invited him to add more money in that area. He does it with a 33-year-old veteran with extensive experience in LaLiga who had also been playing regularly (19 games this season), what is called an immediate performance player.

Casualties and injuries in defense

Caglar Soyuncu, After a very disappointing first half of the season, he has been loaned to Fenerbahce to rediscover himself. César Azpilicuetaa perfect wild card, might not return until the final stretch of the course due to a meniscus tear. José María Giménez He is also in the dry dock and in his case the severity of the illness is not as worrying (he should return this month) as the repetition of injuries he suffers.

Definitely, Diego Simeone remained, at least in the short term, as Witsel, Hermoso, Savic and Reinildo to cover three positions in the center of defense. A roster that is too small to face three competitions with full guarantees. And there Gabriel Paulista has appeared, a textbook market opportunity.

Because the Brazilian ended his contract with Valencia this season and enjoyed an automatic renewal clause if it reached 20 games. It happened that Peter Lim refused to let that happen, due to the high salary he has, signed in the forgotten times of opulence at the Mestalla club.

Threat of institutional mess

It also happened that Ruben Baraja, the Che coach, had threatened to declare rebellion in the face of that situation. He had warned the club that he would dispose of him normally, without taking into account his contractual situation, which generated a double threat to Valencia: economic and institutional peace.

The solution has been an agreement between Valencia and Paulista to terminate the contract and another between the player and Atlético to sign an agreement for the remainder of the season. A quick movement, frustrated the negotiations already advanced between the central defender and Besiktas for Simeone to add one more Praetorian to his ranks.