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Why agent switch has Adrian Lopez closer to Arsenal move

Come January, something is sure to give for Adrian Lopez and Atletico Madrid.

No goals and yet to play a full 90, Adrian has seen his career stall this season as he's taken a backseat to Radamel Falcao in coach Diego Simeone's plans.

Further frustrating Adrian is that negotiations over a new contract have ground to a halt.

Arsenal and Tottenham are monitoring developments closely and will be encouraged by news last week that Adrian has swapped agents, joining the stable of Portuguese heavy-hitter Jorge Mendes.

Adrian insists he's committed to Atletico and his decision to go with Mendes is viewed as a way to put pressure on the club to resume contract negotiations. But with three years still to run on his existing deal, Atletico have so far refused to cave in.

"I am very happy here," insisted the striker last week. "It's very important to continue to work hard every day and to be excited in every practice session and every game. I approach very calmly everything related to my future. I have three years left on this contract and so I can live calmly."

Super agent Mendes, however, is close to several Premier League clubs and knows Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, particularly, is seriously weighing up a January bid for the Spain international.

Madrid sources say Wenger has had an Arsenal representative attend at least ten games already this season to see Adrian in action. A £9 million bid has been mooted, but Atletico are under no pressure to sell with Adrian's contract carrying a £15 million buyout clause.

Pep Guardiola asked Barcelona to move for Adrian last season - as part of a controversial overhaul of his squad which was to include the sales of David Villa, Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique. Guardiola was convinced the 24 year-old had the qualities to fit seamlessly into the Barca system, despite some directors questioning his goal scoring record.

And that's what Wenger must consider when he ponders moving for Adrian.

He has never been a prolific goal scorer, barely managing to hit the mark once every six games over a seven-year first team career. Last season, he was an ever-present for Atletico, as Falcao struggled to find his feet, but still managed just the seven Liga goals.

But those in the pro camp for Adrian point to the clubs he's played for. He's always led the line for struggling teams. But at international level, where Spain is so dominant in all age groups, Adrian does offer the likes of Wenger - and possibly Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas - something to chew over. For the U21s, his record is nine goals in 19 games. He has a goal a game for the U19s and U20s and even his two senior caps include a goal against Serbia.

Atletico directors will be under illusions. They'll know Adrian's move to Mendes is a deliberate ploy to kick his career along. As he's shown in the past, if Adrian wants a change, he'll do everything within his power to make something happen. Atletico leaned on these qualities when they controversially nabbed the striker from Deportivo La Coruna following their relegation last year. The move infuriated Depor president August Cesar Lendoiro, amid claims of a cloak-and-dagger deal involving "a secret meeting on the outskirts of Madrid".

The only problem for Lendoiro was that Depor did something similar when they acquired a teenage Adrian from Real Oviedo in a pro contract squabble.

Now, with Mendes in his corner, Adrian appears to be spoiling for another transfer battle.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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