In August 2014, Atletico Madrid hosted city rivals Real Madrid in the deciding second-leg of the Supercopa de España at the Vicente Calderón. Mario Mandzukic’s 2 nd minute goal was enough to win the tie and the trophy for Atletico… their last Spanish domestic honour.
Fast forward to present day and midfielder Koke will be the only player still at the club next season, that featured in that starting XI in 2014. Even Atletico’s former home of the Vicente Calderon is no longer with us, as Los Rojiblancos prepare for their third year inside their Wanda Metropolitano stadium. Now, many of their biggest stars have announced that they are to leave Madrid and seek pastures new, meaning Atleti have very big rebuilding job on their hands.
Veteran full back Juanfran was latest player to be included in the mass exodus of key players that have been the spine of Atletico Madrid over the past few years, overseeing them win the Europa League in 2018 after falling out of the group stages of the Champions League. Since then, captain and leader Diego Godin has announced his decision to leave the club when his contract expired at the beginning of May. He joins two World Cup winners out the exit door, as star attacker Antoine Griezmann reveals his plans to depart for what will be a mega money move to an as-yet unknown location, along with fellow Frenchman Lucas Hernandez who will complete his confirmed transfer to Bayern Munich soon. Rumours are also circulating about the future of Brazilian left-back Filipe Luis, whilst midfielders Rodri and Thomas Partey are being heavily linked to moves to the two Manchester giants.
Manager Diego Simeone has also had his future questioned but the Argentine has seemingly quashed those theories, saying recently; “I like my job, I feel very identified and committed to the club. I know that year on year it’s always more difficult and that makes us see our real selves and generate enthusiasm.”
Atletico can take inspiration from their previous squad rebuilds. The summer of 2011 window saw them lose key players such as David De Gea and Sergio Aguero to both Manchester clubs as well as star striker Diego Forlan, who joined Inter Milan after firing in over 95 goals during his four seasons in Madrid. The loan signing of then teen goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois replaced De Gea whilst experienced midfielders Gabi (€3 million) and Tiago (free) were brought in for next to nothing. The €85 million acquired from the sales of De Gea, Aguero and others allowed Atleti to spend €16 million on Arda Turan as well as the huge signing of Radamel Falcao from Porto for €40million.
The rejuvenated squad improved on their league position before capturing the Europa League in the same season, with new signing Falcao showing his worth by scoring 36 times in just 52 appearances.
Even whilst making a profit, Los Rojiblancos proved that a summer of change can work wonders and they’ll be hoping for the same this time around.
Simeone and the Atletico board will have plenty of funds to splash this summer, after already receiving over €34 million from Wolves for the signings of Johnny Otto and Diogo Jota earlier in 2019 as well as the €80 million Bayern Munich will pay for Lucas Hernandez. The transfer of Antoine Griezmann will also be one of, if not the transfer story of the season when he departs as he is likely to fetch around €120 million. Another €60 million could be added to Simeone’s budget if the rumoured transfer of Rodri to Manchester City is to happen, whilst a similar fee could see Thomas Partey join Man United if reports are to be believed. One thing is for certain though, Simeone needs to make plenty of great signings to reshape his team after so many high-profile departures if Los Rojiblancos are to keep up with city rivals Real and the rest of Europe’s big teams, otherwise they could be in trouble.