Espanyol will not negotiate with Atletico Madrid on defender Mario Hermoso and insist his €40m release clause must be met, outline Diario AS.
It follows a report last month in Marca claiming ‘negotiations are advanced’ for the central defender who is set to follow Felipe Monteiro to Atleti, another defender who joined from FC Porto in a €20m deal.
“Mario has a year left on his contract and it is permissible for him to improve here but we have to stick to the clause,” Espanyol director Roger Guasch said.
“We want to talk about that amount, and then adjust it if we can, but any conversation has to start with the clause. It is for the best of our club.”
The fresh reports claim that the two central defenders will compete with Jose Maria Gimenez and Stefan Savic for two starting spots next season, with Diego Godin and Lucas Hernandez now both gone – while Atleti want Hermoso in for the club's pre-season preparations.
Hermoso, 23, only joined the Catalan club in 2017 from Real Madrid in a €400k deal while he has a contract until 2020 with a €40m release clause in place.
Madrid possess a €15m buyback clause while they also are said to still own 50% of his rights, meaning they can sign him for half that price, but it does not appear they will continue their pursuit.
Hermoso has won two caps for the Spain national team within the last year while he impressed for Espanyol across 35 first-team appearances this campaign.
Bayern Munich and Arsenal are the other two clubs who have been directly mentioned in relation to the Madrid-native, with both said to be seeking defensive reinforcements.
Hermoso previously spent a season on loan at Real Valladolid in La Liga 123.