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F. J. Díaz | 05/12/2012
Leo Baptistao is on his way to becoming an Atlético Madrid player.
The Rayo Vallecano player is one of Atlético sporting director Jose Luís Caminero's top transfer targets and this time 'Los Colchoneros' are determined to not let the player slip through their hands, as happened last summer with Michu, the top scoring midfielder in La Liga last season with Rayo, who ended up joining Swansea for just 2.5 million euros.
With this in mind, Atleti have already made contact with Leo's agent, Manolo Rangel, who has close contacts with Atleti, having worked with the club's youth set up in the past.
20-year-old Leo has been at the Vallecas club since he was 16 years old and graduated to the first team this season. Despite his inexperience he has been one of the revelations of the season and is currently Rayo's top scorer, with six goals in 13 games. He can play as an attacking midfielder or as a 'false 9', a position coach Paco Jémez has employed him in in recent weeks.
If a deal is reached, it will be for next summer rather than in the January transfer window, unless Atleti sell one of their forwards next month. The deal will be difficult to pull off in January seeing as Leo is one of Rayo's key players, and vital to their ambitions of avoiding relegation. Rayo have well publicised financial problems and therefore staying in La Primera is even more important to them than to other clubs, and they cannot afford to lose their best player just yet.
The Brazilian has a contract with Rayo until 2015 and a buy-out clause of 8 million euros, and is believed to be valued at around 4 million euros. Caminero has watched Rayo live on a number of occasions this season and his reports have been positive. Leo is young, versatile, has an eye for goal and provides assists and already knows the Spanish league well, therefore perfectly fitting the profile of player that the sporting director seeks for his club.