Looking at Atletico’s recent transfer activity it seems clear that they are preparing themselves for another attempt at the Liga BBVA title.
The 2014 La Liga success seemed unlikely to continue, however they still had a fairly disappointing campaign, finishing third and without silverware.
This, combined with the rise of Valencia as a potential title challenger means Atletico need to solidify their position in the top three, as they only got one more point than fourth-placed Valencia last season.
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Some will argue that their recent signings of players like Jackson Martínez, Luciano Vietto, Yannick Ferreira Carasco, Stefan Savic and potentially Filipe Luis are replacements rather than investments; yet Atléti have also sold three players (Arda Turan, Mario Mandžukić and Toby Aldeweireld) for roughly £49 million compared to £54 million spent on four players so far.
Whilst not a considerable difference economically, if you consider the players involved it would become obvious that these are consolidation signings rather than replacements, for example Aldeweireld spent the last season out on loan at Southampton therefore he isn’t being replaced, and Martínez and Vietto are both strikers, if Atléti were just replacing Mandžukić they would have only signed one of them.
Colombian Jackson Martínez is a striker that has been linked to most top four clubs in the top divisions of Europe for the past few years.
Ever since signing for Porto in 2012 from Mexican club Chiapas FC, Martínez has impressed every season, being Porto’s top goalscorer every since he has played in.
Whilst Martínez’s goal scoring record is phenomenal at a high level (92 goals in 132 appearances, so roughly a goal every 1.4 games) it is his all round play that makes him such a special signing for rojiblancos, especially at the rumoured price of €24.5 million.
More than capable of using either feet and standing over six feet tall he offers a physicality that would strike fear into the strongest of centre backs. Jackson is not just a replacement for the Croatian, he is an improvement, very few strikers in Europe apart from the obvious (Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi) can better his goal scoring record for his three seasons at Porto.
The signing of 21 year old Argentinian striker Luciano Vietto is equally important.
Whilst Vietto only has one season worth of experience in La Liga, he finished it as Villarreal's as top goalscorer with 12 goals, not a bad first season.
Vietto is a particularly ingenious signing, a young very talented player taken from a league rival for a respectable €20 million.
Not only this, but with Vietto most likely playing second fiddle to Martínez, this allows Luciano to learn from a phenomenal striker and role model, whilst also taking some of the pressure off Martínez to score the majority of Atléti’s goals.
Luciano is more of a gamble than Jackson due to his age having only one successful season however Vietto has experience of La Liga, which cannot be overstated, one can imagine he won’t need to adapt his game too much from Villarreal.
Vietto also offers something different to Martínez. Whereas Martínez is brute strength and an aerial threat, Luciano is a stereotypical Argentine forward in the same ilk of PSG’s Ezequiel Lavezzi, slender, quick, an excellent dribbler and a wonderful right foot.
Yannick Ferreira Carrasco is yet another very talented Belgian that has recently emerged in Monaco’s team over the past few seasons.
The 21-year-old winger signed for Monaco at the age of 16 from Genk's youth team.
It could be argued that in the past year Carrasco has announced himself as a player with immense potential, scoring seven goals and assisting 10 in 36 appearances from the wing, thus directly contributing to a goal every 2.1 games, a pretty solid ratio for a 21 year old.
Carrasco was signed for the same amount as Vietto, €20 million, and at the same age it displays Atléti’s desire to strengthen not just for this season but for the future as well.
Similar to Vietto, Carrasco will be signed to play first team football often, but can take some of the pressure off Frenchman Antoine Griezmann as the main winger.
The signings of Vietto and Carrasco indicate a potential change of style for rojiblancos.
Vietto and Carrasco are both young, fast, fearless players, famed for their ability to score and create rather than being hard-workers, which has so often been a key component of Simeone’s team.
After the disappointment of last season, Simeone might be forced into adapting his style to get the best out of his new recruits.
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