Giménez: Atlético’s young Uruguayan star

Santi takes a look at the bright future for Atleti in defence

Gimenez celebrates Tiago's goal

Gimenez celebrates Tiago's goal

One of Atlético’s greatest strengths is their incredibly organised defence, capable of stopping the biggest teams in Europe.

Simeone has converted the Miranda-Godin duo into arguably the best centre back pairing there is right now. What one of them lacks, the other has more than enough to cover for and vice-versa. However, they are not exactly young and one day a replacement will be needed.

When a great player leaves, it is natural for the fans to want an adequate replacement. The new player has to be as good or even better and finding such players at an affordable price is definitively not an easy task.

Don’t worry though, the club has an excessive amount of talented youngsters with incredible potential: Giménez, Velázquez, Lucas and Ivan. All of these names are U20 centre-backs that could one day represent the Atlético defence.

Today we will be taking a closer look at José María Giménez.

The Uruguayan joined Atlético at the beginning of the 13/14 season and would be fourth choice, behind Godin, Miranda and Alderweireld. No one really knew him, and you can’t blame them. He was bought for approximately €1 million and had played a mere 16 times for Danubio.

After participating in the U20 World Cup, where Uruguay finished as runners-up behind France, Giménez was called up for the real thing.

La Celeste’s capitain Diego Lugano got injured during the group stages and an opportunity presented itself for the young defender. It was the 19-year-old’s time to shine.

And he did.

Giménez played alongside his Atlético teammate Diego Godin and showed the world what he was capable of. At that moment we all knew he was going to get some well-deserved playing time.

Giménez can be defined as a more oldschool type of player; similar to the classic Italian defenders during Calcio’s prime. He knows how to put on a clean slide tackle or simply when to overpower his opponent without committing too much of a foul. Not to mention his positioning and tactical awareness are remarkable for someone his age.

One aspect of his game that can be quite surprising is his speed. Not just that, it’s the way he uses it. Some defenders are capable of long range passes that bring the ball to a more attacking part of the pitch. Giménez does something different. Instead, he brings the ball there himself.

At Danubio he would often be seen making fantastic runs, dribbling through entire teams until he was right behind the striker. Usually this resulted in either him getting fouled or creating a goalscoring opportunity.

If there is something Diego Simeone has mastered, it’s using set-pieces as a way to win games. Luckily for us, this trend could continue for quite some time. Gimenez has shown he is very capable at scoring headers.

In fact, he almost scored in his debut this season against Espanyol, but Mario Suarez “stole” the goal as the ball crossed the line.

Now that Alderweireld has left on loan to Southampton, Giménez has established himself as the definite third choice and will be getting a considerable amount of playing time this season.

What are your thoughts on Giménez?

  • Kris

    I hope by writing “no one knew him,” you mean that not a lot of people outside the Atleti fan base knew him. I believe we even discussed about Gimenez here on this website when he was first signed. The kid was brilliant last year for Uruguay at the U-20 World Cup, is a huge aerial threat like you pointed out, and does his defensive duties better than most U-23 center backs at the age of just 19! This kid is wonderful, looks mature, and plays mature! For me, Jose over Toby any day. Glad that you have decided to focus on our prospects. Looking forward to more similar stories!

  • Santi

    I meant that he was fairly unknown. Even by Atletico fans(before we signed him, at least), though I might be underestimating you guys… Admittedly, I had never heard about him. Alderweireld is a great defender though, but Giménez’s age gives him the edge. By the way, the next article will be about Borja Baston, who is doing well at the moment.

  • BlasiusMagnus

    he should really get more chances. he is young and reliable, and much better than toby.

  • Great article indeed. Add Velazquéz to your list, please. I really would like to read something about the loanee.

  • Kris

    Yes. It’s refreshing to see that we have younger players in our team who are potential starters in the near future. It gives us an idea of what to expect when these players just explode out of nowhere if there’s an injury or something to our initial starters. It’s a suggestion, but if you can you should also post a video showing their abilities. I can’t catch Segunda here where I live and would appreciate a video showing what Borja can do. And thank you for the article, please do give us more.