Does Atlético need a different type of striker?

Atleti may be relying too much on youngers with bags of potential

Vietto and Griezmann have featured together this season

Vietto and Griezmann have featured together this season

Atlético’s attack this season has been a mixed bag. For every air-punching 5-1 victory over Betis we’ve had to celebrate, we’ve had a fist-clenching bore draw against PSV and Villarreal.

You can’t blame it on lack of variety up-front. Antoine Griezmann has 19 goals in the league this season for Atleti, his best haul so far, but he’s also had his fair share of strike partners.

He’s lined up alongside a club legend in Fernando Torres, a promising youngster yet to fulfil his potential in Luciano Vietto, an exciting bag of tricks in Ángel Correa, a creative winger with bags of pace in Carrasco, and also a forward that has proven he can find the back of the net in Jackson Martínez.

And that’s just this season, after Griezmann got the chance to line up alongside Mario Mandzukic, Alessio Cerci and Raúl Jiménez last year. But despite the vast array of talent Atlético have paired with Griezmann, it’s never really clicked up front.

Mandzukic had a good crack before he left for Juventus, grabbing 17 goals in his time with Atleti, but it’s beginning to look like the answer to Atleti’s problem isn’t at Atlético right now.

Fernando Torres has shown his ability in the last few weeks, with a great goal against Betis to add to his one against Barcelona, he’s proving those that never thought he’d get to goal 100 wrong.

However if El Niño is leaving Atleti at the end of the season (and I personally don’t think he should, but that’s a story for another day), then is the future of Atlético’s attack really sitting on the bench this season?

Potential on the bench

To me, Luciano Vietto has been a big disappointment this season. That’s not to say he’s been terrible, as some would have you believe, but I expected so much more from the young man after an excellent campaign with Villarreal.

Vietto is lightweight, and despite having a real knack for running with the ball, we need someone strong to pair with Griezmann, who wants to work hard and track back when we haven’t got the ball.

Ángel Correa has shown he can boss around a defence, but with appearances few and far between, and even fewer starts, does anyone see him as a permanent fixture in the Atlético starting eleven? Maybe not right now, as he is young and adapting, but the lack of game time is worrying.

We’ve seen Simeone persist with young talent he thinks has the best chance of making it (Giménez, Saúl), but we’ve also seen him be more hesitant with others (I’m looking at you, Óliver.)

With the transfer ban looming, it’s looking more and more likely that Borja Bastón is back with Atlético at the start of next season. He’ll be here to compete with Vietto and Correa for a starting spot up front, but is that really what Atlético need? More promising youngsters up-front?

Or do we search for an experience striker in their peak, ready to hit the ground running, and pray we get another transfer window before the appeal is upheld?

A bit of experience

Diego Costa is the first name that springs to mind. Strong rumoured to want a return to the Manzanares, Enrique Cerezo said this week that re-signing the Brazilian-turned-Spaniard would be ‘almost impossible’.

“He has a contract with Chelsea,” Cerezo told Onda Cero. “There are many times when, as much as a I want a player, there is a contract. To negotiate with Chelsea can be really tough.”

There’s also talk of Christian Benteke on Atleti’s radar, despite the 24-year-old Belgian only signing for Liverpool in July for a whopping €47 million.

He really impressed playing in a terrible Aston Villa side, but has fallen out of Jurgen Klopp’s plans at Liverpool after Brendan Rodgers was sacked at the beginning of October.

I was one hoping for Benteke to sign at Atleti two summers ago, when we were also rumoured to be looking at Lukaku (who is again on the move this summer, if you’ll believe it).

What do you think? Do you think that we bring Borja back, and have a four-some of young strikers with bags of potential? Or in the likely event that we let Fernando Torres leave, go all out to bring back a Diego Costa return, or even a player in the mould of Benteke to the club?

  • Santiago

    Bring Falcao back on loan! I think he’d partner Griezmann nicely.

  • Pegatinas y gradas

    Luck, all we need is luck.

    Don’t stop beleiving.

    #NoPararHastaConquistar #JuntosHaciaLaVictoria

  • I really can’t see Benteke doing well at the club. I watched him at Aston Villa, I’m watching him at Liverpool and even though I try to envision him as part of our attack, I really can’t see it working. And I can’t see his work rate off the ball will be to Cholo’s satisfaction.

    Costa? I don’t know. I’m not convinced. Just because he was there when we won the title doesn’t mean it’ll happen again if we bring him back. Definitely a better choice than Benteke, though.

    Borja Bastón on the other hand, is knocking on the door, borderline kicking it in for a chance to prove his worth with Atlético once and for all. And he’s the man I believe we should go with. And it’s costing us nothing.

    Save the money, or spend it somewhere else on the pitch, like a winger or attacking midfielder with lethal vision to provide those assists. Jackson Martinez was a perfect example of a failed transfer, a waste of money. And I’m having a hard time believing Benteke will do any better. Too much money involved to take a chance.

    Keep Vietto and Corréa, let them develop, evolve. Same with Carrasco and just give Borja the chance to partner with Griezmann. I’d love to see that happen, and I’d be even happier if it worked because we’d have another one of our own making a name for himself with us.

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    So I’m guessing that either no one remembers or thinks that Leo Baptistao is good enough to come back from his loan spell and fight for a spot. It amazes me to see that no one even mentions the guy

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    And the problem isn’t in the striker position, It’s been our lack of creativity

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Torres should stay even if we BOTH signed a new striker and brought Borja back .
    And if it’s crowded up front then the one who should leave is Vietto, maybe on loan,
    I always supported him, I still do, but when it comes to choosing between him and Torres it’s Torres of course, for footballing and non-footballing factors .

    The lack of minutes for Correa isn’t just worrying, but it’s frustrating & incomprehensible .
    I mean I can understand why Oliver isn’t playing even if I disagree with it, he doesn’t score many goals as Saul, he only has one goal this season, his assists are few (although he could have had double digits of assists if our strikers didn’t miss many of the easy scoring chances he created) and some people say he doesn’t defend well, which I don’t agree with but again, I can understand .
    But can anybody explain to me why Correa is playing too little ?!
    he scored 6 goals and made 4 assists in 1161 minutes, a goal or an assist every 116 minute, the most effective player in the team after Grizi (who isn’t too far, a goal or an assist every 111 minute) he is a great dribbler, he is fast, he has a great shot, and he is even an Argentinian ! .. so why he isn’t playing ?!

    If we are going to spend big money on a new striker, the only name I think he deserves taking that risk among all the names that are connected to us (Diego Costa, Higuain, Icardi, Benteke …) is Lukaku .

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Let’s talk about Diego Costa :
    And this time I will talk “professionally” and I will ignore the fact that he left us in a very sensitive time, then when he felt uncomfortable he is asking us to take him back, like Filipe, this time I will mention four facts that we should take in consideration :

    Fact number one :
    In his first season with Chelsea he scored only 20 goals, all of them in the league, and he didn’t score any goal in the Champions League, the FA Cup or the League Cup .
    This season he has 15 goals so far in all competition .
    In his 10 games with Spain he scored one goal .
    Are those good enough numbers for a striker who could cost 40 million or more, even if he “fits” our system ?!

    Fact number two :
    He gets injured a lot, I can’t say he is an injury-prone, but he is one or two injuries away from becoming one .

    Fact number three :
    He has a serious disciplinary problem, I defended him strongly when he was with us, arguing that he gets provoked a lot (and sometimes assaulted) and he doesn’t get the protection the stars of Madrid & Barca get .
    But in England that has completely changed, but he didn’t .
    In fact, he became worse .
    So can Simeone put a leash on him, or are we going again to miss him against Real Madrid or for 4 European games in a row through suspension as we did before ?!
    The man saw a direct red in the cup against Universidad Las Palmas (University of Las Palmas) after winning the first leg 5-0 !!

    4- We sold Costa for 38 million euros when we could have sold him for a lot more, because he -with orders from Jorge Mendes- didn’t agree to sign on a bigger clause when he renewed in 2014, and almost half of that amount went to Sporting Braga & GestiFute (we actually made more money from selling Filipe) .
    Is it a smart move to sign a player for 40 or 45 million after selling him two seasons ago for 20 million ?!
    At least with Filipe we were the ones who made profit, but with Costa, Chelsea (one of our rivals in Europe) and Mendes will be the ones who are making a big profit, and we will be losing 20 million or more .
    Does Costa really deserve that ?!!

  • thericeking

    we dont have any strikers apart from torres. vietto, correa, grizi and carrasco are all wingers, imo, maybe not on paper… when the ball is lobbed up to them and they have to contest with an opposition player to bring it down, they lose it almost everytime.
    costa wins the ball in those situations a lot, he holds it up effectively. especially if he had 3/4 of the wingers mentioned before behind him.. having a strong striker like this is the base of our playing style. we attack from deep in our own half very often so we need a strong striker and wingers, not just wingers everywhere.. costa did not have a good season but chelsea were in a relegation position then, the whole team was awful.. now they are playing better he has 8 goals in his last 10 games.
    lukaku could be good, he is only one-footed though but is strong and gets better every year… Borja and Leo i have not seen but i am wary of strikers from any league other than the english. german or spanish.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    In other words :
    Torres is our only traditional striker, which is -historically- our type of strikers .

    You are right about that .

  • Dircil

    and pays him 4 or 5 millions per season? I don’t think this idea is sensibly justified! He’s getting older and has lost his mojo a long time ago. In fact we need a fast and sharp strikers who can materialize most of the chances given to him. Among the strikers that I can think of, Aubameyang is the one since the guy is extremely fast which suits our counter-attacking style. Apart from that, he’s also a decent finisher. If we have to spend more than 40 millions for a striker, we should bet our money on Aubameyang.

  • Hannu

    I quess we would not get Aubameyang for 40 millions or even close so I quess he is out of our reach.

  • Hannu

    Yes, I am thinking the same thing. Does he deserve that? Even though it would sound lethal thinking about Grizi – Costa upfront there is those issues that you mentioned. Anyway one thing is sure. It wouldnt be good business! Though maybe we have lacked some of those balls now when we have no Diego Costa, Raul Garcia or Mandzu but that doesnt really help either when you are suspended all the time.I wouldnt be sad if he comes back but maybe we should just look something new or just what we have giving Torres a contract and take Borja back and thats it.

  • Koke

    In my opinion, these are what an Atleti striker needs:

    1) Big
    2) Strong
    3) Fast
    4) High work rate
    5) Ballsy

    The problem is that very, very few strikers fit all of those criteria. You have guys like Mandzukic who was one of the best headers of the ball you will see. He was strong and tall, and could bully defenders. The problem was that he was so freaking slow that for a team like Atleti that seldom is camped around the opponent’s box, raining crosses in, he is much less useful. What threat does Mandzukic pose on the counter? If we tried to play the way we’ve been playing against Barca (counter attacks, fast breaks), Mario is completely the wrong guy. That’s the same reason I can’t see Benteke succeeding in our team, either.

    Then you have guys like Vietto, who have a great work rate, are quick, and have great teamplay, but are way too small and weak. Will he ever win an ariel duel in games when we are forced to hoof long balls up to the striker? No. Will he ever win a header in the 18 yard box unless he is totally unmarked? I can’t see it. Not saying Vietto doesn’t have a place in our team, I’m just saying that – at least now – he isn’t the answer to our striker woes. Maybe if he packs on some muscle, yes.

    There are only a few players that fit the bill. Diego Costa is an obvious one, but I don’t want him back for moral and financial reasons. He’d be way too expensive and also I just don’t like him. I hate players like Luis Suarez and Costa is on the same level. There’s a difference between being rough/tough and dirty. Players like Juanfran, Filipe, Godin, etc are tough, Costa is dirty. Another option is Icardi. He’s fast, tall, and strong, and could lead a front line effectively. My favorite choice though would be Aubameyang.

    Man. Could you imagine a front line with Carrasco, Aubameyang, and Griezmann in it? The counter attacking possibilities… even Barcelona would be scared to attack us too much. With Auba’s pace, Koke can start playing those through passes he did soooo many times when Costa was here. Auba is everything Vietto should strive to be, but isn’t at the moment. I don’t know if he is a Simeone type player, but maybe (truth be told) we should start evolving away from certain Simeone-type players.

  • Ringo

    If Vietto is a winger, then Agüero is a winger. I think a strong striker would work for us, but I think the most important aspect is having a striker with a quick response, who knows how to pressure very well. At the moment Torres and Correa seem to fit that bill best, with Vietto kind of an anomaly who still needs to find the click in his head. He could still turn out great for us. Everything is still possible.

    The strikers we have at the moment I am content with. Adding Borja will (hopefully) make it even better, but I haven’t paid much attention to his pressuring game. Diego Costa is the kind of striker Simeone’s system is (still) built around, so of course he would be a fit for us, but Torres seems to be able to fit the role better every game (sadly he isn’t that young anymore, so the younger strikers will have to grow into a steady force in the coming 2-ish years) and I have faith that the team will adapt to eachother in some months.

  • Koke

    Also, something that is very much necessary to mention: the problem isn’t only with the strikers. It’s with the midfield and the tactics. It doesn’t matter if you have Lewandowski and Messi in your team, even they would score a lot less goals if the types of players behind them were only Koke, Saul, Augusto and Gabi. We NEED an Oliver-type player to dribble between the lines and slip in little through balls. If it’s not gonna be Oliver (I don’t understand why on earth not but Simeone’s the boss) then we should get someone like Silva or Cazorla, even though I’m sure Simeone wouldn’t want them either. Somehow Griezmann still manages to score a bunch of goals but that’s down to his own quality and not our gameplan.

  • Ringo

    If rumors of pricing are true, we are a little too late in chasing Lukaku.

    Costa would be solid solely because our system is partly inspired by his type of striking. Whether he deserves it or not (and ignoring the injury problem), that’s why I wouldn’t be AGAINST it, even if I wouldn’t be necessarily FOR it.

  • Borja16/17

    To be perfectly honest aubemayang is at the top of my wish list for that atleti striker role. Fast ,big, strong, clinical. What more could you want? Probably availability. Because I don’t think its a realistic signing. Lukaku? Maybe…..strong,fast, clinical, seems reasonable but really hasn’t proven himself at the level we require and his work rate might be an area of concern. Lacazette? Haven’t seen anyone mention him. I think he has potential to adapt to the atleti mentality and is physically capable. Not too sure on that one(thoughts?). Lastly and my biggest point is that we need to give borja a chance. There is a big issue with space and position availability. If we re-sign Torres for next season we have 5 strikers available, grizi,vietto, correa,Torres plus recalled borja. Add in the possibility of a new striker…. We need to find room somewhere. I want to see vietto succeed. But I think he needs to be loaned out. No one loves correa’s flair more than I do, but again pecking order. Perhaps also loaned out? I would love to see grizi, borja, and a third from any of the listed above to be the main strikers. Really hoping for the best and still optimistic for the rest of the season #AupaAtleti

  • thericeking

    the transfer ban must not bother you.
    not signing anyone relies on our present players getting much better, or on simeone changing the style of football we play. everything is possible.
    but i would prefer it was possible with diego costa..