Atlético Madrid's intentions of signing the best young talent from South America show no signs of stopping, after confirming the transfer of 19-year-old Ángel Correa, and bidding for 22-year-old goalkeeper Gerónimo Rulli.
The model has paid dividends in the past, with the likes of Sergio Agüero, Luis Perea and Eduardo Salvio joining the club from Argentina as youngsters, and going on to forge successful careers in Europe.
The move is also the clearest indication yet that Thibaut Courtois will not be joining the club on a permanent basis. The twenty-two year old Belgian has been nothing short of sensational since joining the club on loan from Chelsea, in 2011.
In his time at the Vincente Calderón, Courtois has picked up both Spanish domestic honours, the Primera División and the Copa del Rey, and two of the highest European honours, the UEFA Super Cup and Europa League, narrowly missing out on a Champions League medal. He has also been rewarded on a personal level, winning consecutive Zamora trophies in the past two seasons, and the La Liga Goalkeeper of the Year in 2013.
Early reports suggested Courtois could be used as a makeweight in the Diego Costa transfer, but it now appears, having talked to Jose Mourinho, his immediate future lies at Stamford Bridge.
So who is the potential replacement? Rulli has clocked up fifty games since debuting in 2013 for Estudiantes de la Plata, and hast fast become one of the top talents in Argentina, and future number one of the national side. He made sixty-eight saves in his thirty-eight top flight appearances, at an average of 1.8 per game. In comparison, Courtois averaged 1.9 saves per game this season in his thirty-seven matches, although it must be said the opposition was markedly stronger.
As a former Estudiantes manager himself, it would seem Diego Simeone is using his links with the club to great effect, although with both Barcelona and Manchester City rumoured to be interested, Atlético won't want negotiations to drag on.
If Courtois isn't returning to Atlético, it opens the door for another young, talented stopper to make a name for himself in La Liga, and with the hype surrounding Rulli, the transition could be smoother than first feared.
As a ruthless pragmatist and organiser, Simeone would have been planning for life without Courtois, so it is no surprise that the club have acted fast to fill the void left by the big Belgian. If Rulli can make a similar impact, he will make Diego Simeone a very happy man indeed.
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