Koke's full name, Jorge Resurrección Merodio, is incredibly fitting for a player that has been at the centre of Atlético Madrid's revival over the past two seasons. At twenty-two years of age, the Madrid native didn't burst onto the scene as a hyped protégée, only gaining 9 starts between his debut in 2009, and the 2010/11 season.
Instead he was slowly integrated into the first-team picture, and Diego Simeone's gradual approach has been fully justified over the last two league campaigns, with Koke establishing himself as one of the best midfielders in La Liga.
A perfect manifestation of the modern Spanish footballer, Barcelona target Koke is forceful in possession, combining an innate first-touch with wonderful passing ability, whilst tenacious in defence. Physically he is able to thrive in Diego Simeone's pressing set-up, and whereas sublime playmakers before him were seen as soft-touches, Koke is combative and brave.
Whilst Thiago Alcantara and Isco were often vaunted as the heir's to Spain's midfield, both have struggled to impose themselves after big-money summer transfers. Koke, who joined the Atlético youth system at the age of 8, has benefitted from a stable club career, and currently boasts more international caps, 7, than both Thiago, 5, and Isco, 2 respectively.
Xavi lauded Koke as his successor at international level, but Koke will be hoping he doesn't have to wait for the imperious Barcelona midfielder to retire to establish himself as a key part of the Spanish team. Both will be picked in Vincente Del Bosque's World Cup squad, and Koke's chances of starting the first Group C clash with Holland will be boosted due to his versatility.
Diego Simeone has often deployed him on the right of midfield, where he is able to operate in pockets of space left by opposition wingers, and thread balls in behind to Diego Costa. Del Bosque will be aware of the synergy between Costa, who is likely to start up front for Spain, and Koke, who is currently leading the La Liga assist charts with thirteen assists.
After majorly impressing in the semi-final second leg against Chelsea, Koke will be closely scrutinised by a whole host of scouts in the World Cup, although Atlético will be confident of keeping their star-man having recently tied him down to a new contract that runs through to 2018, and increased his buy-out clause from €24 million to €60 million.
Koke could well finish the season with La Liga and Champions League medals before heading off to Brazil, and with the recent addition of Diego Costa, Spain represent arguably the strongest squad in the competition. Glory in Brazil would top off a majestic season for Koke, and Xavi might have to consider handing over the throne sooner than expected!
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