What can Atleti fans expect from Matías Kranevitter?

Rods Campbell runs the rule over Argentina's new midfield hope

Kranevitter will join after the Club World Cup in December

Kranevitter will join after the Club World Cup in December

Atlético Madrid made a number of impressive moves in the summer transfer market, but one that really caught the eye was the acquisition of defensive midfielder Matias Kranevitter from River Plate late on in the window.

Whether you’re a follower of South American football or simply have an interest in young footballing talent worldwide, you will rarely have a discussion about promising future prospects without hearing Kranevitter’s name mentioned.

The 22 year-old has already established himself in Argentina as a typical no. 5, drawing early comparisons in his career to the very man he’ll be playing under for Atleti, Diego Simeone. He was also called up to the national team for the first time last week for friendlies against Bolivia and Mexico.

Sitting infront of the defence, Kranevitter is tasked with controlling the game from the base of the midfield, as well as unsettling the opposition and breaking up attacks.

Going forward as a team, attacks tend to start through Kranevitter as his awareness and accurate passing ability allows him to push the ball forward and control the tempo of the game.


Tackling is quite possibly Kranevitter’s biggest strength. Not only is he consistent with his tackling, he avoids going to ground and lunging into tackles therefore his foul count remains low.

It is this element of his game, combined with his ability to be in the right position at the right time that has led to comparisons with players such as Simeone and Javier Mascherano.

At just 22 years of age, Kranevitter’s ability to read the game so accurately is impressive, and his intelligent positioning allows him to chip in with blocks and interceptions.

Kranevitter is a perfect example of a player tasked with marking a specific zone on the pitch, bossing the the area infront of the defence and igniting attacks from a deep position.

Although he isn’t known for being a playmaker or creating chances, his passing is always accurate and he understands the importance of differentiating between when to break forward quickly, and when to hold on to the ball a little longer.

His stamina is also a major strength, chipping away at opposition players throughout the game but rarely showing signs of tiredness or fatigue.


Kranevitter is not known for his attacking mentality, therefore he loses points when analysing his crossing ability, and as he rarely attempts efforts on goal it is difficult to know whether or not he has the finishing ability or composure to take chances when they fall to him. He is yet to score a goal for club or country, however his defensive abilities make up for his lack of attacking threat.

Not a common trait amongst defensive midfielders, Kranevitter lacks any real pace and occasionally struggles to keep up if he is caught out of position or loses the ball to the opposition.

His strength is also another slight concern, he isn’t as big or as strong as you might expect for a defensive anchor, which may prove problematic when he finds himself up against more physical attacking players.

Where he fits in at Atleti is the next question. Kranevitter could play in the centre of a midfield two next to Koke, holding his position to protect the defence allowing Koke the freedom to roam back and forth. Comparisons have already been made between Kranevitter and Gabi, therefore he may ultimately become the natural successor to Atleti’s captain.

However, depending on the formations Simeone chooses to use moving forward, he may eventually play as the single defensive midfielder sitting just behind two central midfielders and in front of the defence.

One thing is for sure, if Kranevitter can continue his rise as a solid defensive midfielder and transition well to the style of play in La Liga, he has the potential to become one of the top players in the league at his position.

His contract with River Plate runs through to December, therefore Atleti fans have time to familarise themselves with the talents of the Argentinian before witnessing the real thing in the red and white shirt come January.

Can Kranevitter make an immediate impact for Cholo’s men?

  • Chewie

    Who is the new player of the month (August)? I’m torn between the stunning Griezmann and Oblak who has seven clean sheets in a row.

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    Kranevitter looked really good tonight playing for Argentina

  • Arjit Barua

    Yeah and he assisted Correa’s debut goal too! The future is bright

  • Chewie

    And his strength isn’t such a big problem – Gabi is not the biggest guy too. From the interview, he looks like a very serious and intelligent young man, hope he does well with us.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I didn’t watch the game, I was busy watching US Open and enjoying seeing the Madridista Nadal getting his ass kicked .
    One of the most overrated sportsmen in the history, he is a great clay court player, the best actually, but he is an ordinary tennis player .

    Like Arjit said, the future is bright, but I’m afraid that we won’t be able to keep all those very promising young talents, it’s the biggest challenge for Gil Marin since he became our CEO, and it’s the time for Jianlin, he has to step in and help on every way he can, he have to bring us big sponsorship deals, either from his own companies or from outside, and he has to help us finish La Peineta which has taken too long already .

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Makélélé was smaller than both of them, and yet he was a beast in the midfield .

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    6 of those 7 were in August and only 2 were official, he wasn’t involved much vs Las Palmas, and he did make many saves vs Sevilla, but none was too special .
    But I do feel very safe with him in the goal, I bet Chelsea fans don’t feel the same about Courtois right now even if none of those many goals he conceded lately was his responsibility .
    And I do believe that it’s time for him to be number one of Slovenian national team, Handanovic is good, but Jan is way better, and it’s also time to secure him with a giant buy-out clause, even more than the 80 million of Grizi, I think right now great GKs are more rare species, and we already lost two of them in the last 4 years .

    And what I can say about Grizi, everything is said repeatedly, but let me say this :
    His killer instinct is unbelievable, he can score from half chances and even quarter chances, and he can assist while he is down on the floor .

    But I will go a different way, I choose Gabi, and I would have voted for him in the poll held by the club after every game, but I don’t because it’s sponsored by a beer company and as a Muslim I don’t feel very comfortable about it, even if I’m not drinking it or buying it .
    Anyway, Oblak, Grizi, Oliver, Tiago & Gabi were the most impressive in the two official games in August, but I pick Gabi because of the unfair criticism he suffered (some wanted him out or benched this season) and because he probably won’t get too many other chances with all those talents in the team. And if not Gabi then it’s Tiago .

    For me, Gabi is very similar to Ahmad Hassan, former Captain of Egypt who played in Gabi’s position, wasn’t very talented but was very hard worker, he played until the age of 38 and looked younger than a 20-year-old, but he wasn’t very appreciated, it was always about Abou Treika, El Hadary and Wael Gomaa, even player like Mido who done NOTHING in all his career (very short career) on both club and international level was more important than him for many people .
    4 African Cup of Nations titles, 184 international caps (World Record) and he still doesn’t get the respect he deserves .

    I wish Gabi stays for many years with us, Tiago too still has one or two good years in him and I would offer him new contract after his current one expires next summer if he wants to stay .
    Those are very different cases than the case of Raul Garcia, whom I wanted to keep as well, but I was being selfish, because I wouldn’t give him too many minutes, but I have no problem with Gabi & Tiago playing all the time .

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    And I just watched the 3 goals Handanovic conceded vs Switzerland,
    I think Oblak could have saved one or two of them .

  • Chewie

    I’m sure after this season Jan’ll be the undisputable number one.

  • Chewie

    Actually, he and Gabi are of almost exactly the same size: 179 and 180 cm, and about 72-74 kg. Plus, he’s only 22, look at how Oliver’s beefed up in a year or two.

  • Ringo

    Gabi was our best player in 2013/14
    but if he’d continue playing like he did in the previous season, I’d want to see someone else there. He can be a smart dirty player, but last season he left out the smarts and the skill. He slowed down the play and his defending wasn’t as good as it should have been.
    But with the scandal, and it only being a year apart, there was always the chance of him returning to form. So far he hasn’t been bad, so I won’t mind him in the starting XI, but he is getting older and another season like the last could prove fatal for him if Atleti wants to continue growing, with players like Kranevitter, Koke, Saúl and Thomas ready to step up in central midfield.
    My criticism wasn’t necessarily personally against Gabi, I just wanted to see our strongest possible team, with a look at the future, too.
    I hope this post made sense.

    I might agree with you on him being player of the month August, though, but Grizi was so great against Sevilla that it’s a hard decision if I don’t want to give a ‘pity vote’, if you know what I mean. Tough call. I think I won’t vote at all.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Gabi himself admitted that he wasn’t so great last season in a press conference couple of weeks ago, but who was ?!
    Every single player was less last season than in 2013-14, and that’s normal, the best 3 players were the 2 newcomers Grizi & Oblak, and Gimenez, who could also count as a newcomer, since he played too little in 2013-14 .

    Gabi wasn’t very good last season, but he wasn’t that horrible as many people make it look like, he wasn’t Miranda, who was a real disaster last season .

    And I would appreciate if people stopped talking about his age, criticize his performance, but age has nothing to do with it, Pirlo was 36 last season when he lead Juve to the 4th consecutive Scudetto and to UCL final .
    And Gabi is 32, since when that became “old”, especially in these days .

    I wouldn’t call it a “pity vote”, but it’s a common sense, when there is a tie, the advantage is for the older because he had to work harder, like in weightlifting, in a tie, the advantage is for the one who weigh less .

  • Ringo

    I think Miranda was better, he just had a few bad games that made him look worse. In my opinion Gabi had the biggest decline last season, and that while he was our leader.

    Pirlo was getting different roles with his age and didn’t play everything, Juve used the rotation system very well. Some games he ran distances, but in general players ran for him.

    Gabi is no Pirlo, he does not have his technical aspects, although he still is very skilled. His hard work is essential to his play and the Atleti game plan is very demanding to him. It’s actually astounding how well Tiago and Gabi are taking it. I know age isn’t everything, but it isn’t nothing, either.

    To stick on top, you have to look at your future, too. If Gabi is back in shape, I want him in every single game. If not, I’d think he’s the ideal third man for a two-man-midfield. He’s experienced and intelligent so we should keep him around for as long as his body runs (and wants to).

    I love Gabi, but I won’t put him in the team if he’s not good enough. That counts for everyone, whoever’s my favorite shouldn’t matter. The team is number one.

    Have to say I believe in Gabi and all of Atleti, though. I feel like we’re going to improve much this season.
    I hope my feeling’s right for once.

  • Ringo

    and to me, a 9 is a 9, I don’t care how you got it. They both worked hard, and age doesn’t matter in ratings, in my opinion. Just in calculating body strength in the future and pace of recovery.