Atletico may lose half their team this summer… can Simeone rebuild?

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Diego Simeone could lose half his first team this summer. Defenders Diego Godin, Filipe Luis, Juanfran and Lucas Hernandez are all going or gone.

Antoine Griezmann leaves at the end of June and if Rodrigo goes to Manchester City that will be six of his favourite XI. If Saul Niguez and Thomas Partey follow suit he’s going to need a whole new team. 

He has been the architect of the greatest period in Atletico Madrid‘s history but now he faces his biggest ever rebuilding job. Sportsmail asks how the longest-serving coach in Europe’s top leagues will set about the task…

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone faces a major rebuilding job over the summer

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone faces a major rebuilding job over the summer

Keepers

The best news for Simeone – in a summer of departures – is that Jan Oblak signed a contract towards the end of last season that will keep him at the club until 2023.

Atletico do not mess around with one keeper for Europe and one for La Liga; second-choice Antonio Adan will play cup games and see out the year he has left on his deal.

The goalkeeper is not a problem position for Atleti, with Jan Oblak the settled No 1 in the team

The goalkeeper is not a problem position for Atleti, with Jan Oblak the settled No 1 in the team

Defenders

With Juanfran, Godin, Jose Gimenez, Lucas, Filipe Luis, Stefan Savic and Santiago Arias, Atletico looked to have the best defensive squad of anyone in La Liga last summer.

Four of those will leave and, of the three left, only Gimenez really convinces Simeone. He will become the new leader. 

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Arias and Savic could go if the price is right but both will probably stay to give depth to Simeone’s options. 

He wants new first-team players though. The club look set to sign Brazilian centre-back Felipe from Porto, but there is also interest in Manchester City’s Argentinian Nicolas Otamendi and Athletic Bilbao’s Yeray Alvarez. 

The latter has a €30m (£26.4m) buy-out clause which Atletico can afford. The former might be cheaper with higher wage demands. Benfica’s Ruben Dias and Inter Milan’s Milan Skriniar have also been mentioned.

Diego Godin receives presents following his final match as he heads off to Inter Milan

Diego Godin receives presents following his final match as he heads off to Inter Milan

Juanfran speaks at a farewell event held at the Wanda Metropolitano ahead of his departure

Juanfran speaks at a farewell event held at the Wanda Metropolitano ahead of his departure 

Brazilian centre-back Felipe (right) of Porto is one player Atletico are expected to sign

Brazilian centre-back Felipe (right) of Porto is one player Atletico are expected to sign 

Manchester City's Nicolas Otamendi is another potential target for Atletico this summer

Manchester City’s Nicolas Otamendi is another potential target for Atletico this summer

Midfielders

Another arrival from Porto looks like being Mexico international Hector Herrera.  Saul will want assurances that he is going to be central to Simeone’s plans next season after spending a year used to fill holes all over the pitch. Partey wants to be just as important. 

They could be Simeone’s central pairing if Rodrigo leaves for City. Koke and Thomas Lemar would occupy the flanks with Simeone hoping to get a lot more from the Monaco signing this year than he did last season.

Saul Niguez wants assurances he will be more than just a utility player in the Atletico side

Saul Niguez wants assurances he will be more than just a utility player in the Atletico side

Forwards

Atletico are watching Benfica’s 19-year-old Joao Felix. ‘He would fit perfectly, he’s got the right personality, he’s ready for the battle,’ says Atletico’s Portuguese legend Paulo Futre. 

Supporters are used to seeing one great striker leave and another come in. So who will be the Radamel Falcao to Sergio Aguero this time? 

Griezmann is a strange player to have to replace because he was a two-in-one player. He played wide or deep as a playmaker but he could also operate as a centre-forward. 

Atletico supporters want Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette after seeing him destroy Valencia in the Europa League. Atletico tried to sign the Frenchman in 2017 but the FIFA ban on registering new players meant the deal never materialised. 

Antoine Griezmann will be the most high-profile departure from Atletico Madrid this summer

Antoine Griezmann will be the most high-profile departure from Atletico Madrid this summer

Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette would be the fans' choice to replace Griezmann up front

Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette would be the fans’ choice to replace Griezmann up front

Wanting and getting could be two different things and Simeone might end up looking closer to home with Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal and Sevilla’s Wissam Ben Yedder are also options. 

None of the aforementioned will really excite the supporters upset by Griezmann’s sale. It would probably take a Paulo Dybala or an Edinson Cavani to do that. 

Cavani is a long-time favourite of Simeone but he earns €18m (£15.85m) net a season and that would stretch Atletico’s salary budget to the limit. 

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Dybala earns closer to €10m (£8.8m) net but his contract runs to 2022 and he’s younger so the price would be much higher. 

Whoever comes in it will be with the idea that they compliment Alvaro Morata and Diego Costa. Costa appeared to have one foot out of the door but Griezmann leaving has led to him being dragged back in.

Juventus striker Paulo Dybala is one potential option as Atletico shuffle their forward line

Juventus striker Paulo Dybala is one potential option as Atletico shuffle their forward line

Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani has long been admired by boss Diego Simeone

Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani has long been admired by boss Diego Simeone

Youth

The coach wants a sprinkling of youth in his new Atletico Madrid.  There are high hopes for their strikers – 19-year-old Borja Garces, Victor Mollejo and Sergio Camello (both 18) who became the first player born in the 21st century to score for the club when he notched their last goal of the season on Saturday against Levante. 

He’s been talked about as another Raul – neither big, nor quick, nor full of tricks; but with a knack of being in the right place at the right time to score. He got goals for the Under 18s, the B-team and the first team this season. 

Those three all have a part to play in the club’s future. What remains to be seen is which big new signings are stood alongside in the team photo for the 2019-20 season.

Sergio Camello became the first player born this century to score for Atletico last weekend

Sergio Camello became the first player born this century to score for Atletico last weekend

 



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