Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo has claimed that Los Colchoneros are yet to receive any offer for Theo Hernandez despite recurrent reports linking the left-back with Real Madrid and Barcelona. Yet, the club chief added that he wouldn't block the France starlet to make a shock move to their local enemies as players always "play where they want to play".
Theo, 19, signed a new long-term deal at the Vicente Calderon last summer with a €24m (£20.3m, $26.2m) release clause before moving on loan to Alaves to earn a first experience in the top flight.
However, his future at Atletico Madrid has come into question amid the reported interest of all Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Marseille in luring him away for Diego Simeone's side.
Last month Marca reported that Real Madrid were prepared to meet his buy-out clause to win the race, adding that Los Blancos had also agreed personal terms with the France starlet to make the shock move.
But other reports since then have claimed that Real Madrid didn't want to meet his release clause without negotiating with Atletico because that would mean breaking the gentleman's agreement between the clubs.
Last week Onda Cero reported that Barcelona were ready to take advantage of the situation to hijack the deal, having convinced Theo to snub the offer from Real Madrid to make a summer move to the Nou Camp instead.
The Atletico Madrid president has now added some clarity to the situation, saying that Los Colchoneros want Theo to stay but admitting that they would be unable to prevent his departure if the player wants to leave – and either Barcelona and Real Madrid meet his buy-out clause.
Asked by Cadena Ser whether the relationships with Real Madrid could be affected by Theo's potential move to the Bernabeu, Cerezo said: "There have always been a good relationship between the clubs. Theo is an Atletico Madrid player and until now, as far as I know, nobody have aproached us about him. We can not talk about hypothetical things."
Yet, Cerezo did gave some hope to Real Madrid fans after denying that Atletico would rather see him move to the Nou Camp than the Santiago Bernabeu.
"There is a code that works the same with all clubs. When we want a player, we talk to the club first, and then with the player. It will happen the same. If they want a player they will speak with us. Things happen as they have to happen. The truth is that right now there is nothing," he said.
Pressed whether he would rather make business with Barcelona rather than with their local neighbours, Cerezo insisted: "I always say that players play where they want to play. If a player really wants to leave and If everything is ready to be transferred, then they can look for whatever club they want. We have no intention to sell any player but if another club comes with a great offer which could be interesting to a player, they should talk to us. We do the same when we want to sign someone. Is the correct way to do it."
"Theo today is an Atletico Madrid player. If he is not tomorrow then we will find out why. There is not more. But leave him and Real Madrid alone. Theo's [potential transfer] is now secondary because our focus is in the Champions League semi-finals."