Atletico has had quite a turbulent offseason. After the squad got together on the 4th of July, Gregorio Manzano has been working hard to ensure that the team is ready for the first La Liga game on the 21st of August against Real Sociedad.
It’s a tough job for a new manager to come in to a club and make the changes needed to help the players adjust to his preffered style of play. Throw in the departure of arguably Atleti’s two top players and it becomes even harder.
Here is the good and the bad of los Rojiblancos’ pretemporada so far, plus what to expect between now and the start of the season.
Yes, losing two players of the quality of Sergio Aguero and David De Gea is something you may not have expected to appear at the top of the “The Good’ section of this article. But take a look at their transfers away from the club in a positive light and you can see that Atletico made a good amount of money on both players.
Getting around €20 million for a young ‘keeper who has yet to prove himself in competitions such as the Champions League or World Cup is a good bit of business. Kun’s transfer was also well done. Although Real Madrid would have been forced to part with more money than Manchester City ultimately did, most Atletico fans would have been happy to see Kun join City, rather than our fierce rivals and La Liga opponents.
The arrivals of Gabi, Silvio, Adrián and Miranda are healthy additions to the squad. Gabi, a product of the Cantera, will have had no troubles settling back into the club. Adrian has the potential to become a top striker while Silvio has been described by Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the best right backs going around. Miranda will be a more than capable replacement for Tomas Ujfalusi who has joined Galatasaray.
Finally, other good news is that our run in Europe is still alive following a 2-1 win over Stromsgodset in the Europa League qualifying round. The team will be very aware that the lead is only slender though, and will have to rise to the occasion on Thursday night in the return leg to be held in Norway.
The main negative to come from the offseason is quite obviously the way in which former fan favourite Kun Aguero left the club. The saga was drawn out, messy and in the end it damaged Aguero’s reputation at the Vicente Calderón. Every party involved could have handled the situation better and anyone who lays the blame entirely on Kun’s shoulders would be wrong to do so. Everyone will be glad to see that he won’t wear a Real shirt next season and that he won’t be threatening to score against us anytime soon unless we meet City in the Europa League.
Losing such a talented goalkeeper in David De Gea prompted the club to go after the highly-rated Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian instead joined Chelsea before making a temporary move to Atletico on a loan deal. While the club got the player in the end, the fact he will return to Chelsea in the future is a negative. Playing Courtois over the likes of Sergio Asenjo and Joel means Atletico’s ‘keepers get less game time which could potentially hinder their development.
Another loss might not have as much of an impact as the departures of Kun and De Gea, but Diego Costa’s knee injury was a heavy blow. The Brazilian forward tore the ACL and meniscus in his right knee which rules him out for the next six months, leaving the squad with even fewer options up front.
Turning to our preseason performances, the games we played against Granada and Bestikas in the mini friendly tournament were a cause for slight concern. 1-0 losses to both sides weren’t the best results, and some players appeared lethargic and unfit. The team was able to turn their form around though for the match against Stromsgodset and with another three weeks until the season starts, there is no need for drastic worry.
What to expect
In terms of transfers, Atletico will still be quite active in the next month. Having hardly spent any of the Kun or De Gea money, expect a big name signing or two before the window closes. Wolfsburg’s Diego is one name being heavily linked with a move to Madrid while there are other players such as Antoine Griezmann, Daniel Osvaldo and Giuseppe Rossi also rumoured to be targets.
On the pitch, there is still plenty of time for the new players to assimilate into the squad, and for the squad in general to find form before the season starts. It’s a time of change at Atletico and supporters should be excited about the potential for success if all goes well.
What are your thoughts after a month of pre-season training?