Atletico admit 'Beast' interest

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Atletico Madrid boss Cesar Ferrando has admitted he would love Sevilla star Julio Baptista at his disposal.

Reports in Spain on Tuesday claimed that Atletico had launched an offensive to try and take Baptista to the Vicente Calderon at the end of the season, and had reached an initial agreement with the Brazilian striker.

Ferrando, whose side are currently in mid-table and failing to meet the perennially high expectations at Atletico, concedes he would be delighted if the club did manage to attract Baptista.

"I imagine that the interest in Baptista will be real," stated Ferrando.

"If he comes, it would be very good.

"Players of his quality will always have a place at a team like Atletico Madrid, but it is a project for the future and right now I am focusing on the game against Numnacia which is the most important thing for our team as the Copa (del Rey) is big for us."

Baptista is one of the hottest properties in Spanish football after a remarkable rise following his move from Sao Paulo 18 months ago.

Sevilla initially signed the 23-year-old as a midfielder, but he has since been converted to striker and has 13 goals to his name this term after notching 19 last time around.

He was linked to Barcelona last summer but no move ultimately materialised, and it seems that Atletico are now to try and prise him from Sevilla.

Baptista's future at Sevilla has been called into question after his agent Juan Figger recently failed to agree a new deal with the Primera club.

However, the South American is still under contract at Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan until June 2008, and his release fee stands at some £25 million.

Although Atletico are purported to have reached an agreement with the player, they seem sure to face a battle to persuade Sevilla to part with arguably their most prized asset.