It would have been all too easy to write of Atlético Madrid next season, following the loss of several key players.
Thibaut Courtois returned to Chelsea, and will be joined at Stamford Bridge by Diego Costa and Felipe Luis. Although not as crucial to the first-team, Adrián, who moved to Porto, and David Villa, who joined New York City FC were both part of the squad that won La Liga last season, so their goals and experience at the top level will be missed.
Added to the exodus were Diego, who continues his nomadic career with Fenerbahce, and Jose Sosa, who returns to his parent club Metalist Kharkiv. In short, Atlético have lost seven players who contributed to Diego Simeone's side's herculean efforts last season.
However, through shrewd reinvestment, Atlético look set to challenge on all fronts again next season. Keeping Koke, Gabi and Diego Godin means the heartbeat of the side is still intact, whilst several high profile additions have gone some way to replacing the high calibre exits.
It has been widely reported that Atlético are reaching the final stages of negotiations with Antoine Griezmann, over a €25 million move from Real Sociedad. The Frenchman is capable of playing on both flanks, or behind the striker, and will add goals from midfield to Simeone's side.
If there was one major criticism of Atléti last season, it was their over-reliance on Costa's goals. Raul Garcia was the major contributor from midfield, with nine goals, whilst Koke, with six, was the only other midfielder to score over five times in La Liga. Griezmann notched sixteen goals last season, but with better players around him will be hoping for more in the next campaign. His arrival, coupled with Ángel Correa's delayed transfer from San Lorenzo, should aid the creativity in the final third, easing the pressure on Koke.
A genuine world-class striker, Mandzukic might not have had the flair required to play for Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich side, but he will be a fantastic addition to Atlético Madrid. A direct replacement for Diego Costa, Mandzukic is physical, powerful in the air and a proven goalscorer. At around €20 million, the 28-year-old represents value for money, whilst his added mobility compared to Diego Costa should enable him to strike a productive partnership with Antoine Griezmann.
The 21-year-old Slovenian goalkeeper has been building quite a reputation for himself in Portugal, with treble winners Benfica. It has been a sharp rise to the top for Oblak, who only became the undisputed first choice keeper at the beginning of last season. His €16 million move is the most expensive transfer for a goalkeeper in La Liga history, and something of a gamble for someone with little experience. However, Simeone reaped the rewards of trusting youth, when he installed Courtois as his first-choice keeper, so he will be hoping for a similar experience with Oblak. The Slovenian will have to battle with fellow newcomer Miguel Ángel Moya for the jersey, but given his price tag it would be a surprise if the former Olimpija man wasn't first-choice.
Felipe Luis' replacement was brought to the club before the Brazilian had even departed to Chelsea. Siqueira made a lasting impression in La Liga at Granada, where the Brazilian born left-back drew admiring glances from Real Madrid, Manchester United and Liverpool. He eventually moved to Benfica on loan, before joining Atlético for around €10 million. He is fantastic dribbler and crosser of the ball, whilst his expertise at penalties is an added bonus. It remains to be seen whether he can reach the level Luis was playing at in his final season, but nonetheless the 28-year-old is a shrewd acquisition.
Atlético Madrid are the perfect example of how to reinvest the funds accumulated from selling top players. Simeone has struck the balance between buying potential, and buying experience. In Griezmann and Mandzukic they have a world-class front-line that will trouble any defence in Europe. With money still in the coffers, Simeone can go out and purchase one or two more top players, leaving Atlético in a strong position to mount a challenge on La Liga and the Champions League once again next season.
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