Opinion: Atlético five years on

Will the Rojiblancos grow further or fall down once again?

Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke

The following is a guest opinion piece. Opinion articles are not the views of AtléticoFans and reflect only the opinions of the author.

A club does not only live in the past and present, there’s also a future ahead. It is strange, but recently the red and whites are known to have a pretty good Cantera. It’s been a long time since the breakthrough of Fernando Torres, but in the last year both Dominguez and De Gea won their spot in the starting line-up. Camacho is second choice, only because of a certain terrific Brazilian.

So, Dominguez and De Gea started to become part of the core in the Calderon. Now, Koke, Pulido and Borja are added to the first team, although Pulido and Koke play for the reserves and Borja is injured. Borja might’ve been third striker, had it not been for his knee injury and Diego Costa’s return. Interestingly though, Pulido and Koke both didn’t play for a losing Atleti B, just ahead of the Europa League game versus Rosenborg. There is a chance they’ll join the first squad. Dominguez is injured and Juanito isn’t good enough, that explains Pulido’s opportunity, but Koke is harder to explain. Perhaps Quique Sanchez Flores isn’t content with the three players available as ‘creative CM’, but it could also be because he wants to give the youth the chance they deserve. Kun is back, which might explain why Gallegos, Marcos and Perea played for the second team. Saul didn’t feature, but he’s only 15 years old. (probably too young, we’re not Anderlecht.)

These players are already pretty close to the senior side, Diego the ‘Uruguayo’, Simao Sabrosa, Tiago, Perea and Ujfalusi are all getting older, so they will need replacements. There will be bought players, but with our new system there is a good chance De Gea and Dominguez will be accompanied by some canteranos.

There is a chance ‘Kun’ will leave, but his first plan was to stay here until he’s 29 years old, that would mean we’ll have a 27 year old superstar in 2015. Next to him might be Borja Baston, the young striker has been in most, if not all, of Spain’s youth squads and always scores a lot. A lot is expected of the taller than average Spaniard. His recovery is soon coming to an end and then we’ll see if Quique Sanchez Flores has a plan for the young lad. Behind the Argentine and 22 year old Spaniard we might see Saul as third striker, he will be only 20 of age by then, he might be a starter already, looking at his potential. If we keep with our trusted 4-4-2 formation, this covers the forward line.

Next, we’ll take a look at the wingers. Reyes, if staying, will be an experienced 32 year old player on the wings by then – our new Simao. His ‘partner’ is harder to choose. Afellay might join us in January or in the summer, but I don’t see him staying for four or five years. Keko is younger, but it’s hard to say how he’ll grow. He was good for Valladolid last year, but was it good enough? Cedric might be brought back and Gallegos, Sergio Marcos, Perea or Fran Merida could take the chance. Maybe they will all prove not quite good enough and that will mean we would have to buy someone, again. I have a lot of trust in the Uruguayan, Gallegos.

Central midfielders, perhaps the most important line. Changes to the game will be there and I expect that we’ll go more defensive or offensive. I choose the offensive path. We will have a midfielder who has to do most of the defensive work and he has to be pretty creative. Xabi Alonso is someone who seems to be able to do the job in the current world of football. For us, it will be Mario Suarez, Raul Garcia, Camacho or Koke. I have most faith in the last two. However, the chance that Camacho will be here for very long seems to be slimmer every day.

This makes it clear that I choose Koke. Another possibility is a buy, it’s a position that requires a lot of responsibility, a 23 year old might have troubles. The more creative player, the number 10, will be Fran Merida or perhaps even Sergio Marcos. I think the first one is the better of the two.

Last, but not least, is the defensive line. Except for the right back position, we look pretty much set at the back. Godin and Filipe will be 29 and 30, great age for defenders, who are already fantastic players. Dominguez will be 26. Ujfalusi doesn’t look like the next Javier Zanetti, so he will probably need replacing. Perhaps Pulido could be turned into a fine right back, but a buy is another possibility. Maybe somehow we can get hold of someone like Gregory van der Wiel or Rafinha, but they will probably be hard to get, looking at their fame. We also have other canteranos, but so many breaking through seems a bit unlikely and at the moment we don’t seem to have a great right back in the reserve squads. So for now, Pulido it is. Plus, a more defensive right back might be very useful, looking at the very offensive Filipe on the left. David de Gea will be in the goal, unless he (unlikely leaves). He’s only 24 by then, so with a little luck we’ll have one of the best goalies in the world for years!

The captain. A good captain is hard to find, but Koke will have a very good view of the game in his position and he’s been captain before. De Gea, one of the defenders, Reyes or Agüero are other players with a good chance, all for different reasons. For now, let’s pick Koke.

So, we can conclude that there is a lot of potential in our youth division. Remember, doing great in the Cantera does not mean doing great in La Liga. However, we have so many big talents that it’s pretty likely that more than one will break through. This year only, two already did!

To help you understand my vision, here you can see the whole XI:

Kun Agüero (27) – Borja Bastón (22)

Sebá Gallegos (23) – Fran Mérida (25) – José Antonio Reyes (32)

Koke Resurección (23) (C)

Filipe Luís (30) – Domínguez (26) – Diego Godín (29) – Jorge Pulido (24)

David de Gea (24)

I know I’m being very optimistic, but look at these names, very talented, all of them!

What do you think of Atlético’s future? This much Cantera or less? Or even more?! Share your thoughts.

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  • Nice XI. Torres as a replacement would make it even nicer.

  • Sash

    I like your opinion, Although I really hope that camacho stays, he could easily be a future captain (I see him or dominguez) if he reaches his potential and signs a new contract, well see in the next 6 months maybe..

    Torres has expressed his wish of returning to atletico by the end of his career, so it would be very nice with a Aguero – Torres partnership with the talented Borja as a third striker since he will only be 22.

    I also don’t think that pulido will be a right back, more likely I think he will be the third choice for CB and a RB will be bought! So I agree with you just that I want to exchange borja for Torres, Pulido for ? and Koke for Camacho. Thank you for a very nice article!

  • Mert

    very nice piece. i do think we’re likely to be active in the transfer market tho

  • k14

    I never been a big fan of torres, but I really have a feeling he will be back soon.
    Which is honestly possible looking at liverpool situation.

  • Ringo Schut

    Good point, but I think he will cost a lot! It will probably depend on Forlan or Aguero leaving the club…

    Torres was the reason I became fan of Atletico, but nowadays I’m not a real fan of his anymore…