Transfer special: Introducing Atlético’s new arrivals

Gaitán, Vrsaljko and Gameiro lead the list of summer signings at the Calderón

Gameiro the man chosen to partner Antoine Griezmann in attack

Gameiro the man chosen to partner Antoine Griezmann in attack

With a transfer ban looming and a new season on the horizon, Atlético Madrid have been busy in the summer window as they look to build their squad for 2016/17 and beyond.

The red and whites have so far managed to keep all of their main stars at the club, and have also brought in a number of new faces to strengthen the ranks and provide some extra competition in the squad.

While the likes of Diogo Jota and Axel Werner were bought more with the future in mind, Sime Vrsaljko, Nico Gaitán and Kevin Gameiro will be expected to make an impact right away.

Read on for a full lowdown on each of our three marquee summer signings:

Nicolás Gaitán

The 28-year-old had been linked with a move away from Benfica for a number of years – with Manchester United a possible destination for the left-winger – but after six years playing in Portugal, Nicolás Gaitán finally earned himself a big-money transfer.

Diego Simeone spent €25million to sign a player who actually helped defeat Atlético in last season’s Champions League group stages. Gaitán scored one and assisted the other of Benfica’s goals in a rare 2-1 defeat at home for Atleti.

During that performance he displayed superb pace and trickery – skills that allowed him to score four goals and earn 16 assists in the league across the season.

In fact, no other player in Portugal recorded more assists than Gaitán over the past two years, with 27. So the new signing – perhaps at the peak of his career – can add another dimension to the already effective Madrid attack.

Simeone could choose to deploy the winger on the left side of a midfield four, playing 4-4-2, or in a 4-3-3 set up Gaitán could play wide in the front three.

The Argentinian was on the scoresheet in his first game in an Atlético shirt, in the recent friendly with Italian side Crotone. He linked up well with Yannick Carrasco – who may be competing with Gaitán for a starting place.

Sime Vrsaljko

Seen as a long-term successor to Juanfran, the Croatian international signed a five-year deal at the Vicente Calderon having arrived from Italian club Sassuolo for around €18million. Sime Vrsaljko is 24-years-old and has made 21 appearances for his country.

Vrsaljko, who comes from the same town as Luka Modric, can be described as a ‘modern’ full-back – strong in the tackle and able to attack the flanks at great speed. In Serie A he showed he can listen to and apply tactical instructions on the pitch – which should be music to Diego Simeone’s ears.

After signing with Atleti, he revealed he had asked his international teammates Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Rakitic for some advice about life in Spain. Mandzukic, who spent a year in Atlético colours, described the way the club worked and backed Vrsaljko’s move to Madrid.

Whilst predominantly a right-sided full-back, Vrsaljko demonstrated his versatility at Euro 2016, playing at left-back during Croatia’s 2-1 victory against Spain in Group D.

More recently he impressed in the International Champions Cup friendly with Tottenham Hotspur in Melbourne, helping his new side keep a clean sheet in the 1-0 win.

It is unlikely that he will earn many league caps at first, and his debut season may replicate Stefan Savic’s campaign last year – featuring mostly in cup matches or coming in to the starting 11 to replace injured players.

Kevin Gameiro

Atlético’s marquee signing of the summer arrived at the club off the back of his best ever season.

After Carlos Bacca was sold to AC Milan, Sevilla fans fretted over who would replace their star striker, but Kevin Gameiro stepped up to the plate to deliver 29 goals in all competitions for the Andalusian club – his previous season-best was 21.

After scoring 67 goals in three years, the 29-year-old attracted serious interest from Barcelona and multiple English clubs. The Frenchman chose to sign for the Rojiblancos instead for a fee believed to be around €32m, putting an end to the speculation about Diego Costa returning to his old team.

With the chance to play for a top Champions League side, Gameiro now has a great opportunity to try and break into the France squad after being on standby for the Euros. The forward was a little unfortunate to miss out on a place at his home tournament, falling behind André-Pierre Gignac and Anthony Martial in the pecking order.

Gameiro can form a lethal partnership with his countryman, Griezmann. They appear similar in stature and both give the opposing defence headaches when hovering around the backline.

However, Gameiro will probably be deployed slightly in front of his new teammate – allowing Griezmann to travel with the ball and create chances from a deeper position. Atlético may have the attacking prowess to compete with the ‘BBC’ or ‘MSN’.

Are you happy with our summer business? Do we need to strengthen anywhere else?


  • atleti10

    Amazing how Gameiro is considered the marquee signing. Gaitan has to be one of the signings of the summer at 25 million.

  • Kris

    Agree. Gaitan is definitely the marquee signing because of what he is bringing to the team. Something that has not been seen in Cholo’s team for a while.

  • Paweł Kosiński

    Jackson signed as a marquee signing and we all know what happened next. We don’t need marquee signings, we need guys to score loads of goals.

  • aileen

    Watching today`s game with Cadiz I must say that I don`t understand most of Simeone`s transfer ideas.But not only those. He wanted a star, `a striker who guarantees over 30 goals per season`-his faith that it`s a remedy for all the Atleti`s problems is inexplicable- being a coach for some years he should have known that it`s not a matter of one man but a choice of players and the best tactics -and it`s much more achievable when there are people in the pitch who know each other and play in the same team for some time.A newcomer needs time, patience and it`s nowhere said he is capable to understand the ideas, values, the soul of the team and the hierarchy in the group. We had had many examples of it .Simeone is an intelligent man – it`s not possible he doesn`t know/understand it.Quite another problem is selling young players, canteranos – it`s a mystery what he`s going to do if transfer ban is introduced?
    Preseason.Looking at the players I can see they are simply tired with all this preparations lasting for over a month.The press broadly commented what was happening there in Segovia and they didn`t hesitate to call it as kind of border experience.Running twenty kilometers in 30 +degrees every two/three days is not an idea created by a normal man and doesn`t have much in common with football fitness(flexibility, accuracy). Now it`s visible that the best in the pitch are those who were absent in San Raphael or were here for some (3-4 )days.How it`s not clear for Ortega and all the coach staff ?
    Psychological aspect- what is the idea of playing match like today`s with Atletico B plus two or three taken from first team ?Young boys feel there is a big discrepancy between their skills and first team level and if they even tried their best it was for nothing. Second, smaller group Gabi/Torres /Carrasco haven`t had right teammates to play so their frustration was visible and culminated during penalties.
    Today will be another game and he will use first squad who will win 10-0 and on this basis they will be indicated to be much better than their teammates used today.
    I`d like to be mistaken but there are more and more similarities between Cholo and Jose Mourinho.

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    I honestly had the same thoughts when i watched the match… I always thought it was better to play players who are going to play along with those who are trying to break into the first team during the pre season

  • nandes

    Borré on loan to Villarreal… Not sure about this. He needed a smaller club in which he could get minutes, and there he will be a 75 minute sub at best

  • Kris

    I mean El Submarino Amarillo only has two forwards at the moment in Pato and Bakambu. Soldado is out injured for a long fucking time because of torn ACL. We still don’t know of Pato’s capabilities, who knows Borre may be able to get a lot of minutes in for a Champions League side.

  • nandes

    Ah I didn’t know about Soldado’s injury. Could see him playing before Pato if the latter continues to struggle with fitness (as always)

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    El Profe is one of the greatest fitness coaches in the world, and his key role in our latest successes is undeniable, and it’s not his fault that Simeone sometimes ruins what he achieves .
    No matter how good El Profe is, players are still humans, and they just can’t play every single minute for 50+ games in the season .
    El Profe’s methods aren’t unorthodox, and he isn’t so hard on the players, in fact, thanks to him we were able to compete until the last game in La Liga and the last game in UCL in 2014 with a group of 13 players, those are the players who played more than 2000 minutes that season (out of possible 5520), and thanks to Simeone, Filipe couldn’t complete either of the UCL finals, and probably won’t be able to complete this season’s final if Simeone once again led us to it against all the odds and despite the huge economic and hence personnel differences between us and many other European super rich clubs .

    I will give him that, no one can deny it, he has achieved too much with too little, and maybe he had his excuses to not rotate so often in 2013 & 2014, but in the last couple of seasons he had a really good bench and he had no excuse .
    And even in 2014, did you really need Filipe to beat Elche, Rayo, Almeria & Valladoild, at least at the Calderon ?!
    And isn’t there right now any other (natural) left back in the whole universe that Simeone likes ?!

    This also is inexplicable .

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I never understood nor liked our preseason friendlies under Simeone, beside what you said, there are two other issues that bother me :
    1- We play against very weak sides .
    This year we played 6 games, 5 of them against Numancia, Cadiz, Melbourne Victory, Nigerian League all Stars & Crotone .. what the fuck ??!!!
    Let’s take a look at some of the friendlies of other big clubs this year :
    Barca played against : Celtic, Leicester, Liverpool & Sampdoria .
    Real Madrid played against : PSG, Chelsea & Bayern .
    Bayern played against : Man City, Milan, Inter & Real Madrid .
    Chelsea played against : Liverpool, Real Madrid, Milan & Werder Bremen .

    2- The “established” players play most of the minutes, while the young ones or those who played less in the previous season play very little .
    Take a look at the minutes per player this preseason :

  • Koke

    I think Gaitan will be one of the signings of the summer. He is criminally underrated, probably because he plays in Portugal. Then again, last season I said the same thing about Jackson, but I still believe it wasn’t entirely his fault he failed here.

    I know a lot of fans are unimpressed with Gameiro, but I really expect big things from him. Call me crazy, but after watching a lot of his highlights and match performance videos from multiple seasons, I see him as a mixture of Sergio Aguero, Griezmann, and Costa – three strikers who all have had immense success here at Atleti. He is short, yes, but he is very very strong and physical. He can dribble and pass, and is comfortable out wide, unlike Mandzukic or Jackson. He makes perfect runs, the type Koke would dream about, much like Torres, Griezmann, and Costa did. I can see him having plenty of one on ones. Really the only two things I can see wrong with him are his age and height, but then again, is there really any perfect striker in the world right now? On paper, he is not a bad signing by any means – with Vietto, Santos Borre, and hopefully one day Baston all waiting in the wings, needing a couple years to grow, I think he can bring us a few good seasons hopefully with a title or two.

  • aileen

    I agree and even if we don`t have to understand everything;)it`s visible that Simeone`s convictions and even prejudices can be very harmful for the team and our final results..He doesn`t want to rotate strongly believing that it`s impossible to win any single match without Griezmann or Filipe/Godin (an so on) or generally win anything important without fresh, unchecked, big name( preferably Argentinian ;)- every year the same story ).It looks like he is having a kind of jigsaw in his head with irreplaceable elements.If you pull out one of them everything will be ruined as if football was a kind of domino :/Moreover he doesn`t notice or rather doesn`t care that unnecessary and expensive signings are no more than playing famous `mind games` with motivation of another players.You can say inner competition is good Yes, but to some extent. It`s not universal pattern.Let`s look at it from striker`s point of view : I`m involved in all the training sessions, 100%, every time and I do my best during a game – but there is a new name/s who came and without preseason, without any proof he really can do more than me, he enters following once because of his price and some unrealistic ideas of the manager :/Is it possible not to have a drop of form in these circumstances ?We have experienced it last year(Jackson/Vietto/Torres).New signings come instead of putting more and more attention to the young boys, who are motivated, skilled, involved and finally treated like a shit even not having the opportunity to show their potential abilities.Another problem is Profe- I would like to believe he is really good at his job as you said -but his belief that running marathons and power exercises can solve the problem of 50 + games per season is rather strange.First – no kind of preparation works for 8 months, secondly- football is surely for speed and power but first of all for flexibility, fast reactions, overlooking the pitch and anticipating, moving with/without a ball, accuracy in shooting not pure athletic values and- thirdly if his ideas were the best there would be no team who win not practicing this kind of training routine every year.