After much debate and deliberation, we proudly offer you our First Annual AtléticoFans Player of the Year award!
We narrowed down our nominees to our top five selections, and chose the winner for 2010 from the list.
5. Paulo Assuncao
Likely unheard of outside of the Vicente Calderon, our holding midfielder Paulo Assuncao is our proverbial unsung hero. The 30-year-old is responsible for taking care of the dirty work and was crucial to our European cup successes this past year.
Constantly dropping back to recover balls deep in our defensive end, Paulo serves as our first line of defence. The scrappy, deceivingly-frail Brazilian is a hard-hitter and an expert at stealing balls from the feet of unsuspecting opponents.
Statistically speaking, our chances of winning increase significantly if he is in the line-up, and conversely, we are very likely to lose if he is not in the fold.
Following the death of an unspecified family member just before the derby in early November, Paulo briefly lost his starting job to Mario Suarez. But Quique seemed to have regained his wits after our back-to-back home losses to Espanyol and Aris, and Assuncao has started our last three matches. Those games have ended in a draw and two wins.
4. Alvaro Domínguez
An Atleti youth product since the age of 12, Alvaro won an undisputed starting role in late 2009 with Quique’s arrival. The Atleti boss took a gamble on the then 20-year-old despite his youth and inexperience, and along with cantera pal David de Gea, Domínguez became a 2010 revelation.
Alvaro helped solidify a very generous Colchonero back-line and played the full 90 minutes of all of our Europa League and Copa del Rey matches, as well as the entirety of our Super Cup triumph over Inter. Our brave young warrior has shown presence and poise well beyond his years, and is widely regarded as a leading candidate to replace Carlos Puyol on the Spanish national team when the Barcelona captain decides to retire.
Domínguez was relegated to the bench for a brief spell in November as he recovered from an ankle sprain sustained while on international duty, but is now back and looks to be in top form. He even scored his first official goal with Atlético in our 3-0 defeat at Málaga just a fortnight ago.
3. Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero
Our Argentine wonderkid had a down year in 2009-10 statistically speaking, but came up big when it mattered most. And in 2010, what mattered most to Atlético were our cup runs.
Aguero assisted both of Forlan’s goals in the Europa League final in Hamburg, and provided an assist and a goal in the Super Cup in Monaco.
Prior to that, Kun had nabbed important braces against Recreativo Huelva in our amazing comeback against the 2nd division outfit in the Copa del Rey round of 16, and on the road at Sporting Lisboa in our Europa League round of 16 fixture against the Portuguese side. The 2-2 tie in Lisbon sent us through to the quarterfinals on superior away goals.
Despite an injury setback that kept him stowed away for a month after our victory in San Mames earlier this season, the 22-year-old has been extraordinary of late and is on pace to shatter his career best season goal total.
The diminutive virtuoso has scored 13 goals in 20 appearances in all competitions so far in the 2010-11 campaign, and can legitimately be compared with the likes of Ronaldo and Messi as one of the top players in the Spanish Primera División.
2. David de Gea
Quite possibly a superior being from another planet, goalkeeper David de Gea became an overnight sensation in January after he took over summer signing Sergio Asenjo’s netminding duties.
A canterano since the age of 12 just like Domínguez, De Gea showed us a glimpse of his potential when he saved a penalty in his first league start with the Atleti first team against Real Zaragoza. It didn’t take long before the Colchonero faithful, fed up with Asenjo’s consistently poor showings, began to clamor for Quique to award the youth product with a full-time job between the sticks.
At the tender age of 19-years-old, De Gea went on to become the youngest Atlético player to win two titles in a season. He preserved our shutout in the final minutes of the Super Cup clash with a mythical save of a Diego Milito spot kick, and has since served as Atlético’s poster child.
The Spanish youth international is often proclaimed as the successor to Íker Casillas on the senior national team.
The apple of Sir Alex Ferguson’s eye and likely the eyes of officials at many of Europe’s biggest clubs, De Gea has insisted that his future is with Atlético and that he is totally committed to his life-long club.
Player of the Year
1. Diego Forlan
Our Uruguayan superstar Diego Forlan followed up his Pichichi and European Golden Boot winning 2008-09 season with god-like heroics in our Europa League title-winning 2009-10 campaign.
Cachavacha eliminated Galatasaray, Liverpool and Fulham with thrilling last-minute strikes, and went on to win the Europa League MVP trophy. He scored an impressive tournament total of 6 goals and ended the 2009-10 campaign with 28 goals in all competitions.
A little over two months after helping Atleti to their first European title in 48 years, Forlan was awarded the most prestigious honour of his career. FIFA granted the 31-year-old the World Cup Golden Ball after he had led his Celeste side to the semi-finals, scoring 5 total goals in the process. He is the first and only Atleti player to ever win the World Cup’s top individual prize.
A notorious slow-starter, Forlan has played inconsistently in the first half of this season. He experienced his longest goalless drought in Spain after going 14 games without finding the back of the net. He finally ended the streak when he scored twice against Osasuna in a 3-0 victory at the Calderón in mid-November.
Despite his recent decline in form, our No. 7’s accomplishments in 2010 were more than enough to earn him our illustrious Player of the Year award. We feel that this can be just the kind of spark he needs to jump-start his 2011 performances.
We’ve likely offended at least one of you with our top player selections, so let us have it by stating your amicable and well-reasoned arguments in the comment section!