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Fernando Torres ‘could make second Atletico debut in Madrid derby’

torres-milanFernando Torres could make his second debut for Atletico Madrid against city rivals Real Madrid on Jan. 7 should he complete his move from AC Milan.

Torres is set to return to his boyhood club in the winter transfer window, with forward Alessio Cerci moving in the other direction.

Widespread reports emerged in Spain, Italy and the UK before Christmas that the two clubs were in talks over the exchange. Both players are set to sign 18-month loan deals having failed to make the desired impact at the respective clubs they joined in the summer. Torres moved to Milan from Chelsea on a two-year loan deal, while Cerci arrived in Madrid from Torino.

AS reported on Friday that Torres, who is currently on holiday for Christmas, would not have his move made official until after Atletico’s Liga match against Levante on Saturday, Jan. 3 as it would not be registered in Italy before Monday, Jan. 5.

That would mean the first match he would be available for would be the first leg of Atletico’s Copa del Rey round-of-16 tie against Real Madrid at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday, Jan. 7, with the return leg at the Santiago Bernabeu the following week.

Neither Torres nor Cerci has featured regularly for their new club, with former Liverpool forward Torres managing to score just one goal this season, on his first start for the Rossoneri in September. Cerci has also found the back of the net only once — in the Champions League — having featured only six times in the Primera Division.

The deal, struck by Milan’s general manager Adriano Galliani and his Atletico counterpart Miguel Angel Gil Marin over Christmas according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, would be mutually beneficial.

Torres no longer seems to fit in the plans of Milan coach Filippo Inzaghi, who instead needs a player who can fill in for Keisuke Honda while he is involved in the Asian Cup. Cerci, who netted 13 goals for Torino playing in a similar role to the Japanese forward, could be a suitable replacement.

Torres enjoyed some of the best years of his career at the Vicente Calderon, finishing as the club’s top scorer for five seasons in a row before moving to Liverpool in 2007. A return to familiar surroundings may help him rediscover the form he has been lacking ever since he left Anfield in 2011.

Since Milan did not qualify to play in Europe this season, Torres would also be eligible to be included in the Rojiblancos’ squad for the knockout stages of the Champions League, taking the place of Cerci.

A deal cannot be officially processed until the transfer window opens on Jan. 1, although an agreement between the clubs and players can be reached before then ready for when the window opens.