Now that David de Gea is gone, Atlético head coach Gregorio Manzano is in search of a replacement goalkeeper.
Following De Gea’s press conference on Wednesday, Manzano told Spanish television station Canal + Liga that the club’s priority is to “sign a forward and a goalkeeper”.
That Atleti need a quality striker to replace Sergio Aguero once the Argentine chooses his new home is hardly a topic up for debate, but should the club be looking for a starting keeper?
Between the sticks, los Colchoneros are currently left with Joel Robles and Sergio Asenjo.
Many Rojiblancos feel youth system product Joel is ready to step into his cantera mate’s shoes next season, despite the fact that the 21-year-old has only made two official first team appearances in the past two seasons.
The Spanish youth international recently made his feelings clear, threatening he would leave Atleti if a number one keeper is signed and he is relegated to the bench for a second consecutive season.
Joel, who has no shortage of suitors in la Liga, would be the most cost effective option for our 2011/12 campaign and is slated to be our starter next year.
Then there’s Asenjo.
Sergio pretty much feels the same way as Joel, recently telling Yahoo! Eurosport Spain, “I suppose Joel and I are the two goalkeepers on the first team. If another one arrives he will be a tough competitor.”
The 22-year-old then warned “in the event a third keeper is signed to play as the starter and considering what happened last year, I prefer playing and perhaps I would leave again in order to avoid impeding the development of either one of us.”
Asenjo was referring to his decision to play for Málaga in the second half of last season on loan, where he re-injured his right knee.
“I’m working very hard to return as soon as possible and show the club it was worth signing me,” he said last week.
According to AS, Atlético sporting director Jose Luis Caminero traveled to Brussels on Tuesday to “initiate talks” with Belgian Pro League side Racing Genk for 19-year-old goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
The Belgian youngster was named ‘Goalkeeper of the Year’ of Belgium’s top flight for the 2010/11 season and started 44 matches for Genk last campaign.
While Courtois is younger than both Joel and Asenjo, he has certainly seen his fair share of first division action.
The question with the Belgian is, should Atleti shell out the reported €4 to €5 million price tag for another young, largely unproven talent that would drive away a home grown product like Joel who would cost us nothing?
Another perhaps more sensible option would be to sign an experienced backup.
AS claim Atleti are interested in Arsenal’s 34-year-old keeper Manuel Almunia. The veteran has a year left on his contract with the Gunners and reportedly wants to close out his career in his home country.
Almunia’s signing would be the type that would work as a fail-safe in case Joel fails to convince as the starter.
Do you think the club should sign a starting keeper, or do you think Joel is ready to step up to the challenge?