Atletico have done well in the transfer market despite losing star players.
In what should have been a glorious summer for Atletico Madrid fans, basking in the glory of their incredible title achievements in La Liga last season, things all looked rather gloomy a few weeks ago as star players departed and their rivals spent heavily on their traditional summer ‘Galactico’ signings.
Not only did Atletico have to watch their heroic title-winning squad decimated almost single-handedly by Chelsea, with Diego Costa and Filipe Luis being snapped up by the Blues and loan star Thibaut Courtois returning to Stamford Bridge after being developed for three years at the Vicente Calderon, they had to stand by and watch as the undisputed big boys (despite finishing second and third) of Spanish football spent heavily on the likes of Luis Suarez, James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos in a bid to get themselves back to the top of La Liga for next season.
Still, with time, Atletico have continued doing what they have so well in recent years with some astute signings to boost their chances of retaining a title that already looked lost before August. As before, manager Diego Simeone has reinvested the money brought in from players wisely, signing some bargain replacements to leave his side looking arguably just as strong as they did last year.
To replace leading scorer Costa, who left for £32m, Mario Mandzukic has come in from Bayern Munich for just £17m. The Croatian international is hardly a desperate purchase either, with a Champions League medal under his belt owing much to his goal in the 2013 final against Borussia Dortmund, as well as numerous other honours in his short stay at the Allianz Arena. The 28-year-old also managed 48 goals in just 88 appearances for Bayern, and his physical frame and playing style makes him a superb like-for-like replacement for Costa at nearly half the price. Considering what Simeone has done with far inferior players in the past, it is conceivable that he will improve even further under his management.
Two new goalkeepers have come in to help fill the void left by Courtois, with Jan Oblak from Benfica likely to be the number one after some highly impressive displays in his time in Portugal. The 21-year-old is another extremely promising young player in that position, and even if he is also poached by a bigger club in the near future, it seems likely that Atletico will once again make a big profit on his sale.
At left-back, Guilherme Siqueira has also come in having spent time with Benfica, joining last season on a year-long loan deal. The Brazilian knows La Liga well, having previously played for Granada, and after attracting interest from the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool in the recent past, he should make a fine replacement for the departing Luis, with arguably more of an attacking edge to his game, and again arriving for a fraction of what was brought in for the player he’s replacing, with Luis moving for £20m and Siqueira coming in for just under £8m.
Last but not least, Antoine Griezmann has been confirmed as an Atletico player after arriving for £24m from Real Sociedad. The French international, 23, was one of the stand-out performers in La Liga last term, scoring 20 goals in all competitions from his starting position on the left flank. His fine form had seen him linked with big names such as Liverpool, Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain, but Atleti have won a significant victory here by beating off competition to bring him to the Spanish capital. Griezmann is a top class talent who will add plenty of flair and goals to this solid and functional Atletico side. Once again, the club have bought superbly here, and the prospect of the skillful wide-man combining with Mandzukic should be a very exciting one for Atletico Madrid fans, who will surely not be missing Costa’s goals now.
Barca and Madrid may have their ‘Galacticos’, but for just £70m (£5m less than Suarez’s total fee) and an overall loss of just £11.4m, Atletico have made a brilliant recovery after what could have been a nightmare summer for the club, replacing the players they needed to, and bringing in one potentially world class young attacker to give them a new edge. The summer isn’t even over yet, but it already looks like being another intriguing season in Spain next term.