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‘We want to help but not be damaged’ – Simeone hints at Real and Barca clause after Atletico Costa exit

La Liga bosses’ boss is sorry to see the striker leave but thinks it’s the best thing for everyone involved

Diego Simeone says Diego Costa still has a future in football after his release by Atletico Madrid, although he is likely to move abroad with the club keen to help the player “without being damaged”.

The 32-year-old Spain international has been a marginal member of Atletico’s squad this season, making just seven the league appearances and scoring twice.

He was due to reach the end of his contract at the end of the campaign but that was torn apart, allowing Costa to find a new club.

Costa has asked to leave Atletico, citing personal reasons, and has been linked with a return to the Premier League after previously playing in England with Chelsea.

Speaking at a press conference, Simeone appeared to indicate that the fiery striker would leave Spain, suggesting that there was a clause built into Costa’s exit regulations that would prevent him from joining one of their La Liga rivals – namely real Madrid or Barcelona.

“The club were able to help him without getting damaged and that generates peace of mind,” Simeone said. “You know we love Diego, we spent a lot of time together in the best way, we gave ourselves a lot and we had a chat with him.

“He also has the need to find new challenges because he’s good, strong and I can’t imagine another scenario other than one that keeps doing good things because he’s a fighter.

“[We want] to thank him, as with all the people who gave us their hearts, and Diego was one of them from a sporting and human point of view.

“[I] I hope he finds the best way and that he can kiss each other the next time we meet, since we haven’t seen each other for a few days because he didn’t come to train while he was negotiating. The best thing that remains is that we can hug each other when we see each other, celebrate and remember. “

Costa has scored 83 goals and provided 36 assists in 215 games for Atleti, where he first arrived in 2006 at just 17 years old.

He won the La Liga title at Capital club in the 2013-14 season and also lifted the Copa del Rey and Europa League, as well as a two-time Premier League champion during his three-year stay at Chelsea.

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