The view that Atlético Madrid's title winning side was to be deconstructed by various European vultures appears to be unfounded, at least on the scale first feared.
Apart from Thibaut Courtois, who has for the moment returned to his parent club Chelsea, the side remains intact. However, it does appear that Diego Costa is on the verge of joining Chelsea, whilst Filipe Luís, Thiago and Miranda could all potentially follow him out of the club. Atlético are wasting no time in lining up replacements for the departing players, with the main addition being Guilherme Siqueira, arriving from Granada for around €10million.
Siqueira impressed during his time at Granada, earning a loan spell to Portuguese champions Benfica last term. He was born in Brazil, but qualifies for Italy through citizenship, having played at Inter Milan, Lazio and Udinese before moving to Spain. In his time at both Granada and Benfica he showed energy and drive, as well as contributing goals from the penalty spot, so he will be a more than adequate replacement for Filipe Luis, assuming he leaves. Both are 28, and it would be nonsensical to have both at the club, so it would appear Siqueira's arrival has heralded Filipe's exit.
In goal Atlético have added Miguel Ángel Moya, an experienced La Liga stalwart and former Spain Under-21 international, from Getafe, and are expected to announce the signing of highly-rated Argentinian goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli, from Estudiantes. The door is seemingly shut on Courtois' return, with Chelsea understandably keen to keep the Belgian, but Atlético's policy of signing an experienced keeper and a highly-rated talent could pay dividends. Rulli was watched by Manchester City and Barcelona, so Atlético have done well to add another prodigious talent to the goalkeeping department.
It would be naive to think Ángel Correa's imminent arrival at the club is a direct replacement for the outbound Diego Costa, but under Simeone's tutelage, the young Argentinian forward has every chance of establishing himself as a top goalscorer in La Liga. The move has been held up by the infamous medical, which highlighted a cardiac condition that requires heart surgery, but the 19-year-old is still expected to complete his move from San Lorenzo. He will have to adapt to Simeone's aggressive tactics, but will add flair and creativity to Atlético's attack.
One player heavily linked with a move into Atlético, rather than out, is Arsenal attacking-midfielder Santi Cazorla, who has told friends he is looking to return to Spain. At 29 this is understandable, and with Wenger notoriously suspicious of players over 30, Atlético stand a decent chance of tempting Arsenal to sell. A fully comfortable and relaxed Cazorla would be a magnificent capture for the club, and would compliment Koke and Gabi in midfield.
The two main pillars of the Atlético renaissance, Diego Simeone and Koke, are going nowhere, and for that exact reason I would expect Atlético to be challenging on all fronts again next season. It is worth remembering that the Atlético squad was viewed as nothing extraordinary before Simeone took over and instilled a sense of confidence and solidarity, and this won't have changed.
If they continue to make smart purchases for the outbound players, Atlético have a realistic chance of defending their title, even without the goals of Costa.
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