After much speculation this month, Jan Oblak is officially an Atlético Madrid player.
The 21-year-old has put pen to paper on a deal which will keep him in Madrid for six years. The fee to be paid to Benfica is claimed to be around €16 million.
His high price tag owes to the fact that Oblak is one of the hottest young prospects in world football.
Having established himself at Benfica last season, he had a long list of admirers but the Slovenian has chosen Atleti as his next destination.
His acquisition confirms that Thibaut Courtois will not be returning to us next season.
Oblak has big boots to fill, as Courtois’ contribution over the last three years has been nothing less than outstanding, winning back to back Zamora trophies.
Our new Slovenian keeper was highly influential last season which saw Benfica win the domestic treble and reach the Europa League final. He too has accolades to his name, picking up the Best Goalkeeper Award in the Portuguese League 2013/14. He also kept an impressive 15 clean sheets in 26 appearances last year.
Jan Oblak couldn’t hide his excitement about being Atleti’s number 1 next season.
“Benfica wanted me to stay and the president has done everything to stop me from leaving, but my wish was to sign for Atletico,” he told A Bola.
This desire to play for Atleti is music to fans ears, and if he can display half as much heart as his predecessor then we are sure to have a top goalkeeper on our hands.
“Ever since I was a child I have dreamed about playing in the Spanish league, which is a better league than the Portuguese one,” our new portero added.
“This was always a big challenge that I wanted to take on.'”
Such enthusiasm will be needed in a season spent defending our Spanish crown. The transition from the Portuguese to the Spanish league will not be easy for Oblak, but with one of the best defences in Europe in front of him, (although now without Filipe Luis) his should be made a little bit easier.
Atlético Madrid Sporting Director Jose Luis Perez Caminero told the club’s official website that “Oblak is a goalkeeper with great quality and a great future, who will contribute a lot due to his enormous talent”.
Caminero’s mention of the word ‘future’ suggests that the club is trying it’s best to keep it in the upper echelon of European football for years to come.
At a time when high profile players are leaving Atlético Madrid, it is nice to have someone coming in the other direction.
Oblak will need time, the same amount of time that Atletico fans gave Courtois when he arrived, but I’ve no doubt that he will be a huge success for Los Rojiblancos.