Assessing Atlético Madrid’s summer signings and the chance of success in 2014-15

One of the fairytale stories in world football last term was Atlético Madrid’s rise to be crowned La Liga champions and their dramatic run to the final of the Champions League.

Under Diego Simeone, the Estadio Vicente Calderón outfit went toe-to-toe with the financial might of El Clásico superpowers Real Madrid and Barcelona, coming out on top against the odds.

However, this summer Los Colchoneros have lost some integral players of their title-winning side.

Hotshot striker Diego Costa and reliable left-back Filipe Luís have both moved to Chelsea, while goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has also been recalled by the west London club.

Add to this seasoned attacking options David Villa and Diego leaving the Spanish capital city and Adrián being allowed to leave for Porto; all of a sudden Simeone’s squad has a completely different look to it.

Atleti have been busy in the transfer market bringing in replacements for the outgoing men and strengthening; but is their summer business so far enough to see them spring another shock or two in 2014-15?

The following new players will wear the famous red and white shirt for Simeone’s men this season.

Mario Mandžukić

452613932-491760The loss of Diego Costa became somewhat inevitable after his incredible goalscoring feats last season. However, Atleti are familiar with losing star strikers; think Fernando Torres at his best, Sergio Agüero and Radamel Falcao.

The addition of Mandžukić though is an extremely clever one.

Deemed surplus to requirements at Bayern Munich following the arrival of Robert Lewandowski, the burly Croat’s signature for €22 million is a bargain.

With a proven eye for goal, the ability to lead the line and the ball skills to bring others into the game, Mandžukić’s signing certainly will limit the loss of Costa and give Atlético a lethal striker to call upon.

Guilherme Siqueira

Luís’ departure provided a gap at left-back, with countryman Siqueira brought in from Granada as his replacement.

The 28-year-old Brazilian was never given a consistent chance at Udinese earlier in his career but has proven himself in Spain over four years and also during a loan spell at Benfica last term.

Luís was one of the unsung heroes in the Atlético ranks in 2012-13; he is a solid defender but also offers speed and good delivery in the final third.

Siqueira has a job on his hands after his move to the Spanish capital, but has shown promising signs that he is ready to play at a higher level.

Jan Oblak

Courtois developed at Atleti over three seasons into one of the best young goalkeepers in world football and there is an argument to suggest that the giant Belgian stopper will be missed most of those who have left.

Despite being linked to a host of other custodians, Simeone opted to bring in 21-year-old Slovenian goalkeeper Jan Oblak from Benfica.

The eastern European was given a chance last term at the Estádio da Luz and performed admirably both domestically and in Europe; so much so that he was named the Primeira Division’s best goalkeeper.

However, despite his individual heroics and role in helping Benfica to a memorable campaign, Oblak only played 16 times for the Portuguese side before moving to Madrid.

As such, he will be thrown in at the deep end at Atlético – given the unenviable task of following Courtois and David de Gea in the Vicente Calderón goal.

His inexperience means that moving quickly to sign a more established stopper this summer such as Pepe Reina, Guillermo Ochoa or Keylor Navas may have been a safer option.

Antoine Griezmann

Antoine GriezmannAfter excelling at Real Socieded over the last 18 months in particular, Griezmann had become one of Europe’s most in-demand young stars.

Atlético’s splurging of €30m on the France international could be seen as something of a luxury given that Arda Turan and Koke usually take up the roles on the flanks.

However, Griezmann’s purchase adds real quality, a goal threat and versatility to Simeone’s squad.

It will be interesting just where the attacking midfielder lines up for his new side, with potential for him to even potentially play as a number ten after the departures of David Villa and Diego.

Jesús Gámez

The 28-year-old right-back is an experienced defender and joins after a prolonged spell with Malaga.

Although Juanfran will continue to commandeer the right-back berth for Atleti, Jesús Gámez is a very able back-up and a player that will add experience and strength in depth to the squad.

Raúl Jiménez and Ángel Correa

A collective €17.5m was splurged on this exciting attacking duo, with Simeone obviously thinking about the future with the acquisitions.

Jiménez arrives in Spain with a solid goalscoring record for America in his native Mexico and also has the benefit of 26 senior caps for his country.

Correa has been a starlet for San Lorenzo in Argentina and will move to Europe after the Copa Libertadores campaign.

Just how much first-team football this pair will get remains to be seen, but Atlético need players in the final third after departures this summer.

The Vicente Calderón outfit can he held responsible for the nurturing and development of Agüero after he moved to Spain as a teenager; the club’s fans will hope one or both of these prodigious talents can follow in the Argentine’s footsteps.

Verdict

The signings of Mandžukić and Griezmann add real quality to Atlético’s ranks, with the former minimising the impact of Costa’s departure.

In Oblak and Siqueira, Simeone has opted for players with real potential but that have not been consistently tested at the highest level.

Expect Atleti to continue to be a force both domestically and in the Champions League this term – especially with Simeone at the helm.

However, given the major investment of Real Madrid and Barcelona this summer, if Atlético retain their La Liga crown this season it will be even more noteworthy than their efforts in 2013-14.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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