Chelsea have reportedly received a "boost" in their bid to land Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone, after it was revealed the Spanish giants had been hit with a two-window transfer ban, not including the current January market.
According to the Mirror's John Cross, Blues owner Roman Abramovich thinks that setback will help his club launch a move for Simeone as they look to once again establish themselves as a Premier League powerhouse.
The report indicated the Argentinian is Chelsea's "No. 1 choice" to take over, as outbound Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola looks likely to succeed Manuel Pellegrini at the Etihad Stadium.
Simeone joined Los Rojiblancos in 2011, and three years later, he led the club to their first La Liga title since 1996, collecting a club-record total of 90 points in the league.
His managerial magic helped Atletico break up the duopoly Barcelona and Real Madrid long held over the Spanish top flight, and his achievements haven't gone unnoticed at Stamford Bridge. Atletico lead La Liga's ranks, sitting two points above reigning champions Barca and four points in front of third-placed Real.
Kieran Canning of Agence France-Presse is of the understanding Simeone will remain at the Vicente Calderon, owing to the fact his squad doesn't require a "major upheaval" anyway:
Neither squad in desperate need of upheaval. 2017 more likely too see significant movement reRonaldo, Bale, Griezmann, Simeone etc— Kieran Canning (@KieranCanning) January 14, 2016
While Atletico will be banned from registering new players until the summer of 2017, Chelsea are sure to make major moves in the market as they seek to restore their former status in the European ranks.
However, Simeone gave an account of his future prospects last month and suggested he'll remain with Atleti for some years when speaking to Spanish newspaper El Pais (h/t Guardian's Michael Butler):
Why can’t I be here longer? Why did I choose a five-year contract? Because I see a club that is "virgin" and Miguel Ángel [Gil Marín, the chief executive] and Enrique [Cerezo, the president] have the ability to open up new sources to strengthen in. It’s not easy to leave Atlético.
More than a team we are a family, and we are a real family. Obviously we have internal problems, there are players who get angry and who will get angry because they don’t play. I am the father and the grandfather is a role for Miguel Ángel Gil and Enrique Cerezo.
We have a potential that no one has. Oblak, Gimenez, Vietto, Carrasco, Oliver, Koke, Correa, Saul, Lucas, Thomas … 10 young players and the veterans are at the perfect age.
Chelsea are unbeaten under interim chief Guus Hiddink, who is in his second spell at the club and attempting to revive their season following a horror start under predecessor Jose Mourinho.
Bleacher Report's Jonathan Johnson believes Simeone will be moving on from the Atletico helm in the foreseeable future, and Hiddink's expected departure this summer will leave a vacancy in west London:
@VanDerCharks Very possible. Atletico to replace Simeone (who I assume will be off) makes sense.— Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip) January 13, 2016
Atletico Madrid also received a fine in the region of £620,000 to go with their two-window transfer embargo, in relation to their signing of underage players. Real Madrid will also be banned from the next two transfer windows and received a smaller fine of around £250,000.
Simeone would at least see some familiar faces in west London, with Diego Costa and Thibaut Courtois currently at the club, both of whom played huge roles in Atletico's 2014 title triumph.