This week we’ve extensively covered the appointment of Atlético’s new sporting director José Luis Caminero. But we take one last look at his predecessor’s wheelings and dealings for Atlético in Part 2 of Jesús García Pítarch’s most famous signings.
You can find Suso’s best signings (Part 1) here and we’d love to hear your thoughts on our top 5!
Sadly most of you will agree that the number of flops he’s signed is longer than his list of successful additions, although you might have already forgotten about some of these exotic acquisitions.
With a good sense of humour, but mostly a lot of embarrassment, we present to you Suso’s 5 worst signings!
5. Cléber Santana (Summer of 2007)
Atlético’s long search for a new playmaker often led García Pítarch to the beaches of Brazil where he was said to be spending more time than in Madrid. For months the director negotiated with Santos to sign Cléber Santana Loureira, who in the end was said to have cost us between 3 to 6 million euros.
But Cléber failed to convince Javier Aguirre of his qualities and had to take a place behind Maniche, Raúl García and eventually the 17-year old Ignacio Camacho in his first year at the club. Because he occupied one of the extracomunitario spots he was sent to Mallorca in 2008 and the midfielder visibly felt more at home on the party island. He featured in 32 games and scored five goals, something he had not yet managed to accomplish at Atleti. After his season in the Balearic Islands we decided to bring him back to Madrid for the 2009-10 campaign, but he failed to impress again. Despite having two years left on his contract, Atleti decided to give him away for free to Sao Paulo in the middle of the season which speaks volumes about the club’s valuation of the player.
4. Giourkas Seitaridis (Summer of 2006)
From the first moment on, Giourkas Seitaridis proved to be a liability for Atlético, being sent off in his league debut for the club. The Greek defender had made a name for himself at the European Championship with his national team two years prior which had earned him a move to Dynamo Moscow. The Russians already knew what we soon would come to learn, that Seitaridis was not a long term solution for our problems in defence and definitely not worth a €2m annual salary.
You can tell a player has been a failure when he leaves Atlético without the club asking for a transfer fee, but just imagine how bad one must be to actually be fired, as Seitaridis was. In 2009 Atleti wanted to get rid of the right back so desperately that we decided to terminate his contract even if it meant paying him a royal golden handshake.
3. Costinha (Summer of 2006)
When we struck a deal with Dynamo in 2006 we not only signed Seitaridis, but also his team-mates Maniche and Costinha. The trio had moved to Russia after winning the Champions League with José Mourinho’s Porto and the two midfielders were regulars on Portugal’s national team. It was hoped the duo would also form a strong partnership for Atlético, but things didn’t turn out as expected.
Despite stirring up a lot of controversy and being the subject of mockery, Maniche would always start when fit, unless he had fallen out with his coach the week before. But Costinha was never heard from again. The defensive midfielder was anonymous during his short spell at Atleti and warmed the bench during his single season in the Vicente Calderón, with the not so impressive Peter Luccin and Gabi ahead of him. He was 32 when he joined us and looked to have wandered from a retirement home whenever he was strolling around the park in the Vicente Calderón. The one time his name made it into the papers was when he picked a fight with a canterano during a training session. In the summer of 2007 he left on a free transfer to Atalanta, but few noticed his absence. Costinha’s one and only positive contribution however came last year, when he, as Sporting Portugal’s new sporting director, shelled out €6.5m for Florent Sinama-Pongolle.
2. Luis García (Summer of 2007)
Little Luis García had played at Atlético for one season at the start of the century, but really made a name for himself during his time at Liverpool. In England the fans adored King Luis after he helped The Reds to two Champions League finals, and there was some heartbreak when he was included in the transfer of Fernando Torres.
So when he returned to Madrid, much was expected from the versatile forward. He could be used on the right, on the left or behind the strikers, but ultimately García failed to make any position his own and was only used as a substitute by Javier Aguirre. Before he joined, Luis García was a Spanish international but at Atlético he struggled to impress, scoring just two goals in 48 appearances. Perhaps he wasn’t a failure like some of the other names in this list, but with his status and abilities, much more was expected from him. After two seasons García left for Racing, who he ditched after just 15 performances last year. He is currently playing for Panathinaikos in Greece but rarely features in the starting XI.
1. Fabiano Eller (January 2007)
Some of the names in our list might be unfamiliar if you haven’t been following Atlético for a very long time, while we can also imagine that you’ve simply forgotten some of the uninspiring transfers we’ve made over the years. Fabiano Eller dos Santos most definitely falls into the latter category, although old Suso will forever be reminded by Atlético fans of this legendarily catastrophic signing.
The Brazilian centre back has been a club hopper all his life but lived his finest moments as an Internacional player in 2006 when they beat Barcelona in the Club World Cup. Some months earlier, Eller had even made his debut for the national team in a friendly match.
Before we signed him, he was under contract at Trabzonspor and it remains a mystery how García Pítarch saw a player who was unwanted at a Turkish mid-table team as a possible reinforcement for Atlético. But in the January transfer window of 2006-07, we signed the defender for a couple million euros and let him fight the illustrious trio of Pablo Ibañez, Luis Perea and Zé Castro for a spot.
In his eighteen months at the club Fabiano made 23 appearances and scored one goal, a highly controversial one he wouldn’t have scored had there not been a Villarreal player injured on the ground. It would prove to be the match deciding moment in a scrappy 1-0 win.
It’s one of the reasons most fans now rejoice when they reminisce over the defender, although his hilariously bad performances weren’t as funny back then. Eller was usually a walking calamity, or a blown away bystander like in our historic 6-0 home defeat against Barcelona. In 2008 we let him go for free and it’s rumoured García Pítarch himself gift-wrapped the defender and bought Eller his plane ticket back to Brazil, where he has featured for another three clubs in as many years.
The signing of Fabiano Eller perfectly typified how most of García Pítarch’s dealings at Atlético turned out to be. Our former sporting director filled our squad with useless players from South America, hoping they’d turn out to be the next Dani Alves or, he would sign washed up millionaires looking for a big pay-check. We hope that our new sporting director, Jose Luis Caminero, will use a different strategy when composing our team in the years to come.
A complete list of Suso’s signings:
2006/07: Costinha, Maniche, Seitaridis, Jurado, Pernía, Miguel de las Cuevas and Eller
2007/08: Cléber Santana, Motta, Abbiati, Diego Costa, Luis García, Raúl García, Reyes, Simão and Forlán
2008/09: Banega, Ujfalusi, Sinama-Pongolle, Coupet, Heitinga and Assunção
2009/10: Cabrera, Gallegos, Asenjo, Juanito, Salvio and Tiago
2010/11: Filipe, Godín, Fran Mérida, Elias, Juanfran, Miranda, Adrián and Sílvio
*Players that were loaned out or bought back were not included in the list.
What do you think are the 5 worst signings García Pítarch has made during his time at Atlético?