With the news that playmaker Diego – who was crucial to Atlético’s European success last season – will not be coming back to the club after his one-year loan spell making the rounds last week, it’s easy to lament the dire state of Atleti’s (and Spanish football as a whole’s) finances.
The news about the gifted midfielder’s definitive return to Wolfsburg came on the back of reports confirming perpetual Atlético target Borja Valero’s sale to Fiorentina for a frustratingly-discounted price of €7 million.
We also recently offloaded Alvaro Domínguez and Eduardo Salvio, two talented but inconsistent youngsters who nonetheless have already won a couple of UEFA trophies with los Rojiblancos, just to square up the club’s finances, with the sale of another regular starter – possibly Diego Godín or Miranda – reportedly in the cards.
José Manuel Jurado’s return, for better or worse, was deemed impossible because of his price tag: a whopping €5 million.
Los Colchoneros’ ‘big market club’ status is unquestionably advantageous (more money from TV rights than the vast majority of the league, jersey sales, ticket sales, etc.), but the club’s soaring debt after years of frivolous spending, especially in recent seasons (Salvio, Elias, Godín and, oh hell, why not, Falcao), makes the reckless nature of our front office and the fact that directors have no real, underlying long-term plan, more than clear.
But as the old saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention”, and Atleti, succumbing to the plague of financial woe, will not be able to simply buy ready-to-hit-the-ground-running replacements for retiring, departing, or sold-off players.
In order to survive, los Colchoneros will have to redefine the culture at the Vicente Calderón and find new ways to assemble a competitive squad year-after-year.
Coaches will be compelled to give more opportunities to home-grown talent–footballers that have the image of the bear eating the fruit of the Madroño tree from the club’s crest tattooed into the back of their eyelids.
There will be a long-term plan in place taking the youth system in consideration. Why spend €10 million on a replacement just to displace an up-and-coming canterano who can do the job just fine while simultaneously raising the spirits of the Rojiblanco faithful pulling for their prodigy?
Eventually, if we get our wallet in order, we can have the best of both worlds a la Barcelona, for example, where holes in the squad can be filled by an academy member and in the event that a proven commodity becomes available on the market, we can snatch him up as well as needed.