Matt Doherty moves to Atlético Madrid after being released by Tottenham

Previously it had been reported Irish defender would go to Spanish club on loan

Matt Doherty’s loan move from Tottenham Hotspur to Atlético Madrid became permanent at 9:55pm on transfer deadline day.

Spurs, having already used up their eight player loan limit, cancelled the remaining 18 months of Doherty’s contract to allow the 31-year-old join Atlètico on a permanent deal until the end of this season.

“We have mutually agreed to the termination of Matt Doherty’s contract to enable him to join another club,” read the Tottenham statement. “Thank you for everything, Doc.”

The Dubliner had been denied game time at Spurs by Brazilian Emerson Royal and while World Cup winner Nahuel Molina is the regular right back for Atlético, manager Diego Simeone needs cover after sealing Felipe to Nottingham Forest for £2 million.


Molina started six matches for Argentina in Qatar but Simone likes to tinker with his starting XIs so Doherty will get opportunities to play in Madrid. Atlético currently lie fourth in La Liga, 13 points off leaders Barcelona. The club’s next match is against Getafe where Irish teenager John Joe Patrick Finn is under contract.

Doherty started 10 matches for Spurs this season but Antonio Conte has secured Pedro Porro on loan from Sporting Lisbon with an obligation to pay €45 million for the Spanish wing back this summer.

“Doherty played every game last season,” said Conte last October. “Now I’m not seeing him in the right way to start the game. I’m not stupid, I don’t want to lose.”

The deal was secured by Doherty’s representatives Gesti-Fute, which is owned by super-agent Jorge Mendes.

A key figure in Stephen Kenny’s Irish side ahead of the upcoming European Championship qualification campaign, Doherty’s new teammates include Dutch striker Memphis Depay and French number 10 Antoine Griezmann. Ireland face the Netherlands and France twice each in 2023.

He is the 10th Irish man signed by a Spanish club, following the footsteps of Kevin Moran (Sporting Gijon), John Aldridge (Real Sociedad) and Ian Harte (Levante).

Aldridge’s loyalty to another former club was all too apparent in this week’s Liverpool Echo column when he attempted to justify Fabinho’s horror tackle from behind on Evan Ferguson.

“Liverpool put in some robust challenges in the second half against Brighton,” wrote Aldridge, capped 69 times for Ireland, “but far from seeing that as a problem, I think that’s the manager saying you can’t be an easy touch. Get stuck in.

“Fabinho’s was just a late challenge, I don’t think he meant to hurt Evan Ferguson.”

Despite leaving Falmer stadium on crutches, the 18-year-old has some chance of featuring against Latvia and France at the Aviva stadium next month.

In an otherwise quiet transfer window for Irish talent, Bournemouth midfielder Gavin Kilkenny joined League One strugglers Charlton Athletic for the remainder of the season following a forgettable stint at Stoke City.

“I really enjoyed working with Dean Holden at Stoke, albeit briefly, and I want to repay the faith he has shown in me by bringing me here,” said Kilkenny. “Hopefully we can start pushing up the table to get this club back where it belongs.”

Kilkenny continues a famous line of Irish midfielders - Mark Kinsella, Matt Holland and Josh Cullen – at Charlton.

The Irish and La Liga

John Aldridge – Real Sociedad, 63 appearances (33 goals), 1989–91

Alan Campbell – Racing Santander and CD Logroñés, 63 appearances (15 goals), 1984–87

Liam Buckley – Racing Santander, 33 appearances (4 goals), 1986–87

Ian Harte – Levante, 30 appearances (1 goal), 2004–07

Michael Robinson – Osasuna, 25 appearances (5 goals), 1986–89

Kevin Moran – Sporting Gijón, 18 appearances, 1988–90

Ashley Grimes – Osasuna, 14 appearances, 1989–92

John Joe Patrick Finn – Getafe, 6 appearances, 2020–present

Steve Finnan – Espanyol, 4 appearances, 2008–09

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent