Cold reality of winter sale

After the weekend football action, Atletico Madrid are second placed in La Liga, opening up a surprising nine point lead over defending champions Real Madrid. Everton are currently fourth in England, and only goal difference keeps them from climbing up to third (or slipping to the sixth). Their current positions of comfort maybe unfamiliar, but are not undeserved. Atleti's 100 per cent home record is the best in the league while Everton have gone behind ten times this season but have lost just once.

Be that as it may, Atleti manager Diego Simeone and Everton's David Moyes may not go into the festive period with much cheer. On one hand, a talented squad and a promising start to the season mean a top-four finish (assuring lucrative Champions League action) is a possibility. On the other, increasing wage bills and a worsening debt situation persuade a manager to look at a side's players as also its assets, to be brought and sold.

For Atleti, Radamel Falcao has scored 17 goals this season (second only to Messi) and Marouane Fellaini has eight strikes for Everton. And at 26 and 25 have their best ahead of them. Chances are, both players will no longer be with their respective clubs by the end of the January transfer window. Atleti are currently 115 million euros in debt while Everton's total liability is close to 100 million pounds. A smart trade could ease the financial burden considerably with maybe some left over to build anew. The star-shorn side slipping back into mediocrity in the second half of the season is also a likelihood. And over the course of the next month, Simeone and Moyes will once more make the choice between ambition and practicality.

Raakesh is a senior correspondent based in New Delhi

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