Lucas Hernandez transfer: Bayern Munich interest in Atletico Madrid defender shouldn’t be a surprise

Lucas Hernandez transfer: Bayern Munich interest in Atletico Madrid defender shouldn’t be a surprise

News that Bayern Munich could pay the €80million buyout clause for Atlético Madrid’s World Cup-winning defender Lucas Hernández has highlighted the Spanish side’s weakened position due to salary limitations, which leave them exposed in the winter transfer market.

It is the transfer bombshell in Spain, delivered before the window had even opened. On December 19, Marca revealed Bayern were preparing to provide the cash for Lucas Hernández to pay his buyout clause, allowing them to sign the 22-year-old, who is having his most consistent season yet at Atlético Madrid where he is proving to be a key piece in a key season.

Having won the World Cup with France, Hernandez, above right, is having his most consistent season with Atletico Madrid

Few, if any, saw it coming. After winning the European Super Cup by defeating arch rivals Real Madrid (Lucas played 120 minutes in the win), Atleti have pushed on and are still in the three major competitions they are competing for this season. Through to the Round of 16 in the Copa del Rey, they are only three points behind Barcelona in La Liga with a match against the Catalans still to play. And though being drawn against Juventus in the Champions League is not ideal, their manager’s excellent track record against Italian opposition (Diego Simeone is unbeaten against Serie A sides as Atleti boss) provides cause for optimism that they can move a step closer towards the final, which will this year be held at their home ground.

Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano will host the 2019 Champions League final

Growing in importance, Lucas can expect to play in the majority of games in that three-pronged push for silverware, having already done so to date. Last year he played three Champions League matches before Atleti were unexpectedly eliminated in the group stage. This year he has already made five appearances, and only missed the final group game through injury. In La Liga, after 17 games, the Frenchman has made the same number of appearances as at the same stage in the 2017/18 season, but only because he has missed four matchdays through injury and suspension. If not, he would undoubtedly have played more.

Lucas Hernandez is going to be vital to Atleti’s pursuit of silverware

The defender is among Atleti’s eight most-used outfield players of the 2018/19 season in terms of minutes, and has started the vast majority of games in his preferred centre-back position, as opposed to left-back where he largely filled in during previous years. The club has long considered him to be the prime candidate to partner José María Giménez at the heart of the defence in the post-Diego Godín era, and Lucas is now being given the chance to show he can do that job on a weekly basis.