Reyes’ future lies in the centre

The wingman has converted into the brain of our team

Reyes the focal point of Atlético next season?(EFE/Zipi)

Reyes the focal point of Atlético next season?

Atleti remain without a coach and without its most valuable assets, but at least one crucial figure remains. More than ever all eyes will be fixed on José Antonio Reyes next season.

Now 28 he seems to finally have found his place after struggling for so long. After his breakthrough at Sevilla at just 16 the winger was expected to have a big career ahead of him, but many years of disappointment followed, with none of his employers fully convinced by the player who seemed unable to pair his undeniable talent with consistency or fighting spirit.

But since Quique Sánchez Flores’ arrival in 2009 Reyes has cemented his place in Atlético’s starting XI and has become an integral part of our squad. José Antonio seems to be the only one of our current midfielders able to connect with the forwards, as he cleverly plays in between the lines.

Although most of this season’s spotlight shined on David de Gea and Sergio Agüero, the importance of la Liga’s most fouled player cannot be stressed enough.

He’s accustomed to sticking close to the touchline on his right wing, but in the past months he’s developed into a playmaker who roams all over the pitch. Not only has the Andalusian’s own productivity increased, he also allows his team-mates to score more often. This season Reyes delivered nine assists and netted seven goals; not bad considering it took the guy a season and a half to score his first Rojiblanco goal.

When Forlán was left off the team late this season, Quique decided to move Reyes to a more central position. Although he used to play as a second forward for Sevilla and Arsenal in his early days, this position as trequartista was new to the versatile forward. He was a natural, performing the role to perfection.

In our most recent games Reyes pulled the strings, reminding me of Juan Román Riquelme in his finer days as he delivered splicing throughballs to Agüero and Juanfran. On Saturday he was at the start of three goals in our 4-3 win over Mallorca in our last game of the campaign.

This season was arguably his most consistent of all and many Atlético supporters were hoping Vicente del Bosque would reward Reyes with a call up to the Spanish national team, but apparently the moustachioed Marquis from Salamanca prefers a certain Manu del Moral. It’s incomprehensible for us who’ve seen La Perla in action all year, knowing he deserves his first cap since 2006 more than any other Spaniard playing for Atleti in recent history.

It’s uncertain what formation Atlético will operate in next season or what players will be available to the new coach, but with Reyes, Juanfran and Salvio there is plenty of depth on the right wing, while we still lack a brain to make the team tick.

It seems Reyes will be the last player of top quality left from a team which had Simão, Forlán, Maxi and Agüero, so it’s essential that he’s made the protagonist of the team. As any coach will confirm your best player should be played in the centre and I feel it’s about time we make Reyes the focal point of this new Atlético.

  • Joakim

    Mundo Atléti wrote an article last week wich said that Reyes wants to stay and that the club wants to give him much more room and importance now when De Gea, Kun and, let’s hope, Forlán leaves. Grande La Perla!

  • Edletico

    I agree he should become one of the most important players but I still think he is better on the right, with a right footed left winger and a creative midfielder behind the striker would be best for next season

  • Kaminero

    Marca wrote today that Quique is eager to take Reyes with him to his next destination.

  • Reyes should stay! I’ve grown fond of La Perla and he is amazing on the field, bravo!

  • Tidy piece Derek, and brings up plenty of thought for what approach to use next season.

    With the possibility of Reyes playing in the centre, what formation were you thinking of? Perhaps a 4-2-3-1?

  • Sweden

    I would really want to play a 4-2-3-1 next season, Buy a good striker and put him up top, piatti to the left and salvio to the right, impossible to fail.

  • Derek Maaijen

    You and I both watch a lot of games from Spanish national youth teams David who always use a 4-2-3-1 formation, which I am a fan of. Even a 4-4-2 with Reyes as a second forward is similar.

    In the end it will depend on the coach we sign and the players we bring in, but I think Reyes could be more influential when used in a central position

  • Mads Aagaard

    Reyes is without doubt our new best player if Kun and De Gea leaves. We could also consider to use a 4-3-3. We should buy a holding midfielder, perhaps Gabi could play it, and a new striker to play the centre.

    Piatti – New striker – Toto Salvio
    Elias – New holding midfielder – Reyes
    Filipe – Miranda – Godin – Silvio
    New Keeper
    That is also an interesting idea i personally think.

  • Yon

    Forlan would slot in the above perfectly if he stays! Think we could get one more good season out of him now QQSF is gone

  • Sergio Lopez

    Nice article, Derek. I also want Reyes to play as a supporting striker or a playmaker. If Sergio Aguero leaves, I would give Reyes (or Gabi) a captain role.

  • Forlán is happy with the crew and club? No QSF? He stays? HELL YEAH! URUGUAYO! XD