Difficult season ahead for Diego Simeone’s Atleti

Diego Simeone

They may have just broken their transfer record fee for Benfica’s Joao Felix but Atletico Madrid are facing a season of huge transition in 2019/20

Now almost eight years in charge at the club, Simeone could be facing one of his toughest years yet.

As well as Felix, Atleti have also brought in Marcos Llorente from their cross-city rivals and central-defender Felipe from FC Porto.

However, they have lost Rodri to Manchester City, Lucas Hernandez to FC Bayern in the Bundesliga, Gelson Martins to AS Monaco and, possibly most importantly of all, Diego Godin to Inter Milan in Serie A. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll also

be aware of the ongoing ‘Griezmann to Barcelona’ saga. Well, if reports are to be believed, Barcelona will finally sign the French international striker this weekend.

Diego Costa is on his way out of the club as well, with rumours of a possible move back to either Wolves or Everton in the Premier League.

In Simeone’s seven full seasons at Atletico Madrid, he has never let them dip below a third-place finish in LaLiga.

Simeone actually led the club to its first LaLiga title in 18 years, and only its tenth ever, in 2013/14, pipping Barcelona by three points.

The last two seasons have seen Atleti finish twice, just behind Barcelona on each occasion. However, the margin was 14 points and 11 points – not exactly a fight to the finish for the title.

How Simeone manages to oversee this transitional period for the club will be very interesting indeed. Getting unfamiliar players to gel quickly into a team unit is no easy task – ask any Football Manager player.

In goals, Atleti still have one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Jan Oblak has been one of the most consistently high-performing stoppers in European football over the last few years. Keeping Oblak at the Wanda Metropolitano is vital to any future success Simeone may have.

Jose Gimenez will be the new leader in defence, taking over from his international teammate Diego Godin. Felipe will need to settle quickly after his move from the Portuguese league.

Mexican terrier Hector Herrera could prove to be an astute piece of business by Atleti with the 29-year-old signed for free after leaving FC Porto. His midfield comrades such as Koke, Saul Niguez, Thomas Partey and last summer’s big signing, Thomas Lemar, will all need to pull their weight as Herrera and former Real Madrid man Marcos Llorente find their feet at the club.

In attack, Alvaro Morata will be hoping to put his Chelsea nightmare even further behind him and kick on in LaLiga under Simeone. Morata will most likely be working in tandem with new signing Joao Felix in the forward line.

Another top-three finish would have to be regarded as a success for Simeone this season with so much upheaval regarding the playing staff available to him.

You wouldn’t bet against him achieving that.

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