With well over 200 games under his belt for Atlético Madrid, you could be forgiven for forgetting that Koke still only 24 years of age. And yet in the heart of Atleti’s midfield sits a player that doesn’t hit the headlines, or chase the spotlight.
Here is a player that just gets on with his business, and it may shock some, even some Atleti fans, to know that the youngster is on for his best-ever season for assists since he took to the main stage with Atlético Madrid.
Level with Luis Suárez at the top of the assists statistics, the Spanish international is only one away from his previous best of 13, in Atleti’s title winning season of 2013/14.
Koke has quietly been getting back to the form that has made Atlético fans all over the world love and adore him, despite very rarely getting to feature in his preferred central-midfield role. The next step is getting his set pieces back to the level we’re all accustomed to!
With a deft touch to take the ball away from Enzo Roco of Espanyol on Saturday, Koke was able to put Antoine Griezmann through on goal, notching up his 12th assist of the season in the process. It was a game to remember for Koke, who also set up Fernando Torres earlier in the game.
El Niño was kind enough to return the favour in the closing stages of the game, crossing for Koke to head home his fourth goal of the season.
It was a solid performance from the Spaniard, setting up his childhood hero Fernando Torres for a goal in the second match running.
“Espanyol are a great team at home,” the maestro said following the comeback away win. “They are a very strong side, and it’s a really important win for us ahead of Wednesday’s match.”
In need of a comeback
The importance of the three points came clearer later on Saturday as Barcelona were unable to come back from a goal down against Real Sociedad, marking their eighth point dropped in their last three games.
Before we get carried away looking at the climax of the league season, Atlético have got Barcelona to contend with in the quarter final of the Champions League. A game that Atleti will have to win without Koke’s favourite target Fernando Torres, who is suspended following his red card in the first leg.
Not that that worries our 24-year-old maestro.
“We’re certain that we’ll come out on top against Barcelona,” the midfielder said. “The team is preparing for the game mentally and we’re confident of a comeback.”
“The Calderón will be jumping – it will be a beatiful night!”