Madrid (AFP)

Little used in Lyon, French center-forward Moussa Dembélé was loaned to Atlético Madrid on Wednesday, with a double challenge: to make his hole in a Spanish Champions League cador and to make a place for himself with the Blues with a view to the Euro (June 11 - July 11).

After a first half of the season moping on the bench of OL, barred by competition, Dembélé (24) will find a rivalry at least as strong within the five-star attack of the "Colchoneros", alongside Joao Felix, Luis Suarez and others Yannick Carrasco.

A hell of a challenge for the center-forward, on loan until the end of the season from the current leader of the Spanish championship who will have a purchase option of EUR 33.5m + EUR 5m in bonus next summer, and who thus finds a replacement for the emblematic Diego Costa, whose contract was terminated at the end of December.

Atlético spent EUR 1.5m to attract the former French Espoirs striker, who underwent his medical examination on Wednesday at the Navarre Clinic in Madrid, according to the club's statement.

And Lyon, which announced a few minutes earlier the arrival of Islam Slimani from Leicester to compensate for the departure of Dembélé, will receive a 10% profit-sharing on resale, in the event of purchase of Atlético.

Currently recovering after having been operated on for a fractured forearm, the native of Pontoise should be operational in early February, for the knockout stages of the Champions League which will see Atlético face Chelsea (go on February 23, return on March 17).

English reunion for this "powerful striker", with a "great scoring instinct" as described in the Madrid press release released on Wednesday evening.

Trained in Cergy-Pontoise and Paris SG, he then hatched in Great Britain, between Fulham (2012-2016) and Celtic Glasgow (2016-2018), before joining Lyon in 2018 for five years and 22 million EUR approx.

- "Lost motivation" -

A daring bet, above all: after having tasted the continental spheres with Celtic and OL, scoring a double against Manchester City in the quarter-finals of C1 (3-1) in August in Lisbon, Dembélé now hopes to revive at the highest level European level, after being relegated to the Lyon bench throughout the first part of the season by Karl Toko Ekambi, Memphis Depay and Tino Kadewere.

"He told me that he had lost motivation a little," Lyon sports director Juninho explained on Saturday at the microphone of the French channel Téléfoot, forced to let the ex-international Espoirs slip away.

"Keeping someone who doesn't want to live intensely for the next five months is not ideal," added the Brazilian.

This season, Dembélé has scored only one goal in twelve matches in L1, against Reims, on November 29, far from his previous season, quite successful (16 goals in L1).

It remains to be seen whether he will be able to adapt faster to Atlético than to Lyon, where his beginnings were sluggish.

Among the "Rojiblancos", the other French speakers Thomas Lemar (22 selections in Blue), Geoffrey Kondogbia (ex-Bleu now international Central African) and Yannick Carrasco (44 selections with Belgium) will be there to support him.

After having treated his broken arm, Dembélé will have four good months to shine at the highest level under the leadership of the charismatic Argentine coach Diego Simeone, and try to catch the eye of French coach Didier Deschamps.

But time is running out and Moussa Dembélé leaves from afar.

© 2021 AFP