Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has heaped praise on Luciano Vietto, calling the youngster ‘one of his better players’.
The Argentine forward featured in the mid-week Copa del Rey win over Elche but has found playing time hard to come by this season at the Wanda Metropolitano.
“Vietto is one of the best players we have,” Simeone told his press conference.
“We must protect him, he is in a position whereby if he is not scoring then he comes under a lot of scrutiny and criticism.
“He is one of our best performing forwards and we must work with him to ensure his confidence returns as he is fantastic.”
The 23-year-old striker was expected to leave the Madrid club this summer just gone, having gained plenty of interest from England, Italy and other Spanish clubs.
However, following Atleti’s transfer ban – boss Diego Simeone preferred to keep the former Villarreal striker at the club.
That stance changed following the arrival of Diego Costa, who is waiting to make his return.
Costa is unable to feature until January, but will come straight into the Atleti side – both domestically and in the Champions League.
Simeone and club president Enrique Cerezo are fully aware that they need to relieve the club’s salary, abiding to La Liga rules and it is expected that offers for Vietto will be looked at in great detail.
Plenty of interest has been mentioned with Southampton, who have struggled to score this season under the guidance of Mauricio Pellegrino – keen.
A whole host of Italian sides have also been labelled with interest, making Vietto’s winter months a decisive moment in his future.