[dropcap]A[/dropcap]tlético Madrid have a rich recent history of top-class centre forwards, with the current contingent following in the footsteps of illustrious predecessors.
From Sergio Agüero to Diego Forlán, Radamel Falcao to Diego Costa and returning star Fernando Torres, the capital city side have boasted some of the world’s most-feared centre forwards over the last decade.
Looking at the current attacking personnel available to Diego Simeone suggests there is no dip in offensive quality.
The effervescent Antoine Griezmann continues to make his mark at the Estadio Vicente Calderón while the revitalised figure of Fernando Torres and the improving performances of Jackson Martínez give the Argentine trainer plenty of options in his forward line.
The difficulty that Luciano Vietto has had in settling in at the capital city club, despite being adjudged as a potential future Argentina international, highlights the extreme competition for places in Atleti’s strike force.
However, the Calderón faithful look set to have another very able striker to consider next season, as youth product Borja Bastón continues his evolution in the game.
A member of the renowned Atlético youth academy that produced the likes of Raúl and Torres, the hotshot forward has been on the Madrid club’s books since he was a mere four-year-old.
Now 23 and finally getting a chance to feature regularly in La Liga with loan club Eibar, Bastón is making waves in the Spanish top flight.
Although his temporary employers were beaten 3-1 by champions Barcelona on Sunday courtesy of a Luis Suárez hat-trick, the up-and-coming striker added to his burgeoning reputation by scoring at Camp Nou.
This strike makes it an impressive six goals in his last five La Liga games for the modest Basque outfit.
For Bastón it has been a progressive journey to this juncture.
Having come through the ranks at Atlético, the fresh-faced attacker was given a debut for his boyhood side on the last day of the 2009-10 season as a 17-year-old – but only lasted 20 minutes before suffering a serious knee injury.
To this day that outing against Getafe is his only appearance for Los Colchoneros, with rehabilitation and time in the reserve ranks being followed by five consecutive loan stints.
Bastón has spent the last four seasons in the Segunda División and steadily improved over the years, with limited opportunities with Murcia and Huesca being followed by noteworthy stints at Deportivo La Coruna and Real Zaragoza.
After scoring ten league goals at the Riazor in 2013-14, the Atlético loanee came into his own last term at Zaragoza, netting an impressive 23 goals and proving himself as ready to feature in La Liga.
His increasing opportunities at club level come as a tonic to lethal spells in the Spanish national youth ranks, with Bastón a prominent feature for the under-16 and 17 teams as he matured and given two outings at under-19 level.
Watching his performance at Camp Nou, Bastón’s virtues are not immediately apparent; he is not blessed with blistering pace or trickery, but is neat on the ball, poses an aerial threat and clearly knows where the back of the net is.
The gifted striker will look to add to his goal tally further after consecutive strikes against Levante, Celta Vigo, Las Palmas, Sevilla and Barcelona, but the most important thing is the chance to play on a regular basis.
Before losing against Barca, Bastón’s goals had played their part in Eibar collecting seven points from the previous four games, with the Ipurua outfit currently sitting in the lofty position of seventh in the La Liga table.
For Bastón, breaking into the Atlético first-team ranks will take some doing given the stellar level of competition at the club, but his growing stature in the game suggests that Simeone will have another exciting option in the final third next season.
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