On the sixteenth of July, Filipe Luis officially made his move from Atlético Madrid to Chelsea FC for a fee of around €20 million, after making 127 appearances for Los Rojiblancos.
Compatriot Guilherme Siqueira, Cristian Ansaldi and Jesus Gamez were all brought in to fill the full back gap left by Filipe. How are the replacements shaping up, and have they succeeded in helping Atleti fans move on?
Filipe Luis’ contribution during his time with Atleti was paramount to the successes enjoyed over the last three years, and he has been arguably the finest full back in world football of late.
His were always going to be big boots to fill, as not only was Luis loved for his tremendous footballing talent by the Atleti fans, but also for his humility off the pitch.
Simeone moved quickly to recruit replacements and the first came in the shape of Brasilian Guilherme Siqueira.
Fresh from winning the treble in Portugal, Siqueira was brought in for €10 million and given Filipe’s number 3 shirt. Expectations were high for the former Granada full back, who was the first of 2 summer signings from Portuguese champions Benfica.
Siqueira said that it didn’t take him ‘more than a second’ to accept the offer from Atlético, and it didn’t take him long to make his debut as he lined up in the pre-season friendly against Numancia. His competitive debut came against none other than Real Madrid, when he played 64 minutes in the first leg of the Supercopa de Espana at the Bernabeu.
Siqueira has made a positive start for his new team and it is clear that he is very different to Filipe Luis.
His defending prowess, however, has been questionable at times, in particular his positioning. Many critics point to the fact that he hasn’t been able to cope with the step up in quality from the Portugese league to the Spanish.
Despite this he hasn’t seemed too out of place in a defence that has rarely changed over the last three years. He has been able to display his versatility with a plethora of skills, making him lethal on the counter attack.
After 7 appearances so far this season, Guilherme hasn’t made the left back spot his own, but with time we could see him produce the type of performances that made him invaluable for his former clubs.
The arrival of another potential Filipe replacement was understated.
Cristian Ansaldi’s was somewhat overshadowed by the acquisition of Frenchman Griezmann, as they were photographed together having medicals in Madrid. The Argentine defender went on to sign a one-year loan deal from Zenit St Petersburg at the start of August.
Atleti fans will remember Ansaldi from his team’s performance again Atlético in the group stages of last season’s Champions League. The 28-year-old stood out in a less than impressive Zenit side.
Ansaldi, like Siqueira, has made a strong start to his Atleti career but has struggled adjusting to his new surroundings. His work-rate has also been called in to question from some areas.
There is no doubt that Ansaldi is a formidable foe for any player – and he has also shown that he has pin point accuracy with his crosses, some of which have resulted in assists – but it is the inbetween where he is at fault.
After helping out with an attack he has a tendency to make a lumbered approach to recover his position. The high intensity of work that comes with being part of Diego Simeone’s team was always going to be an uphill struggle after spending a season in the Russian League, but once he has fully acclimatised we may have another excellent left-back.
The third and final backup is Jesus Gamez, a player we are all familiar with after our encounters with Malaga over the years.
Gamez moved to Atleti in early August, leaving the club he captained and had spent his entire career at. The Spaniard has only made one appearance so far, coming in one of Atleti’s worst performances of the season, a 3-1 away loss to Valencia. But despite his lack of playing time, we all know what to expect from the veteran.
Jesus Gamez has brought with him a wealth of La Liga experience having amassed a total of 266 appearances for his former club. In addition to this Gamez is well known for his leadership qualities which will no doubt be crucial in what will no doubt be another long and physically grueling campaign.
It is unlikely that Gamez will feature regularly for Atlético Madrid – but it’s vital that he’s ready when Cholo calls.
Who do you think has made the strongest claim to replace Filipe Luis? Do you think our replacements can do the job between them?