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?