Diego Simeone has refused to deny reports that Tiago Mendes wants to leave Atletico Madrid but asserts his club still “need” the veteran midfielder.
Marca claimed earlier in the week that Tiago had grown tired of his bit-part status at Atleti and agreed a move to China, only for Los Colchoneros to pull the plug.
The 35-year-old then held a Press conference to clarify the report, in which he condemned the newspaper for running it but appeared to confirm its contents.
“Tiago? He expressed his feelings very clearly,” said the Coach ahead of Saturday’s match against Real Betis in La Liga.
“We don’t usually speak of things that happen inside the club, but he needed to explain everything we talked about.
“He was very clear and frank. I love him very much both as a person and footballer. I hope he can finish the season in the best way possible. The team need him.
“I told him in our talk in October and I’ve always told him what I think of him.
“Five minutes of Tiago on the pitch are very important for the team, I hope we have him back soon.
“Betis? Their Coach has always had competitive teams that pose their opponents problems.
“[Saturday] will be a hard-fought, difficult match to play, with a lot of intelligence needed and the ability to find spaces, which will be at a premium.
“[The game] is going to develop in both boxes, but the middle of the park will be another passageway. Ceballos gives [Betis] quality in their link-up play.”