Nine players from Atletico Madrid’s La Liga winning squad have left the club this summer for various reasons.
To this point, Diego Simeone has brought in four players: Miguel Angel Moya (Getafe), Guilherme Siqueira (who was on loan at Benfica from Granada), Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich) and Slovenian goalkeeper Jan Oblak (Benfica).
Prior to the start of the summer transfer window, Simeone had one demand for officials at Atletico Madrid. That being that the club keep the core of the squad that won the Spanish title and reached the Champions League final in Lisbon.
The Argentine boss stressed many times last season that the “spine” of his team was Gabi, Koke, Juanfran, Godin, Miranda and Raul Garcia.
Under no circumstances did he want to lose any of those players. They are the ones that Simeone built his team around last season and he was counting on them again this time around.
He knew striker Diego Costa would leave and that it was going to be extremely difficult to convince Chelsea to let Los Rojiblancos keep hold of Thibaut Courtois. He also believed that he would also lose Filipe Luis to the London club.
But that is where he wanted it to end.
Miranda, Godin and Juanfran have all been linked with other clubs this summer. But, to their word, Atletico Madrid has continually rejected offers for players that Simeone listed as the part of the club’s “spine”.
Juanfran and Koke both signed extensions to their contracts this June, through 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo has done everything in his power to keep the core of the squad in place. He recently stated that the players “know they have a home here”. The president also went on to say: “They like the climate [in and around the club]” and “earn good money”.
He also noted that the Atletico Madrid’s objective is: “To look for players committed to the club and a project that began a few years ago. Young players who grow together with other players from Atletico’s farm team”
Speaking ahead of today’s preseason friendly versus Numancia, captain Raul Garcia said: “[We are] a very homely group, very close and very competitive, always heading in the same direction.”
He went on to say: “The intention is to compete. I’ve always thought that the club is above any player. The responsibility of all who’re here wearing this shirt have, the commitment to the club, to the fans, with ourselves, makes us live up to what we’ve been achieving. We want compete to the fullest and try to do things well, as we did last year”
Something else that speaks to the team’s unity is the fact that Atletico Madrid now have three first team captains. As Diego Simeone recently added Diego Godin’s name to the list of the club’s captains, along with Gabi and Raul Garcia.
There is a unity and shared responsibility at the club that won’t be lost after the departure of so many players.
Upon learning that he was named a first team captain, Godin said: “I’m very excited; it’s an honour for me. I identify with the club because this is my home.”
What Simeone has started and nurtured at Atletico Madrid is unique in sport. The club is a reflection of their manager, each other and their supporters.
It is hard not to appreciate what has been built in the red and white half of Madrid.
Atletico Madrid will play summer friendlies against: Numancia (today at Municipal Burgo de Osma, Spain), San Jose Earthquakes (July 28 at Candlestick Park, USA) and Club America (July 31 at Azteca Stadium, Mexico).