After a fairly slow start to life in the Spanish capital, Geoffrey Kondogbia has grown into a vital part of the Atletico Madrid setup.
The 29-year-old midfielder was signed from La Liga rivals Valencia in 2020 and had a difficult initiation period at the Wanda Metropolitano. However, he has steadily developed himself into a vital player for Diego Simeone.
A powerful midfielder, the former Inter Milan and AS Monaco star has shown his versatility by often slotting in as a centre-back this season. Kondogbia, so far, has featured 61 times for Atleti, scoring once and setting up two more.
However, his time at the club could come to an end in the summer transfer window amid interest from the Premier League.
A report from GOAL España has claimed that Aston Villa are interested in signing Kondogbia from Atletico Madrid this summer. They would be willing to pay a ‘succulent’ transfer fee to secure the signing of the 29-year-old.
However, the report also adds that Kondogbia is happy at Atletico Madrid.
But there could be a willingness from the club’s part to offload the former Sevilla ace. Boubacar Kamara is likely to arrive on a Bosman deal from Olympique Marseille on a free transfer.
With Koke, Rodrigo De Paul, Marcos Llorente already at Simeone’s disposal and young Javi Serrano expected to step up next season, Atletico might need to offload a player from their midfield unit.
With Aston Villa willing to pay a handsome fee to sign Kondogbia, he could be the one who Simeone & co. decide to part ways with in the summer window. Even if Atletico decide to sell him, the club would likely demand a hefty sum for his services.
It remains to be seen what the future holds for the 29-year-old, who has rebuilt his career successfully after a spell of decline during his time at Inter Milan.
Atletico Madrid midfielder on the derby against Real Madrid: “Very difficult to beat them”
Following a 1-1 draw in their Champions League opener against Lazio, Atletico Madrid will shift all their attention to La Liga, as they brace themselves for the derby against Real Madrid this weekend.
Heading into this game, Atleti midfielder Marcos Llorente spoke about Real Madrid’s quality and Atletico Madrid’s chances of squeezing all three points from this iconic derby.
Llorente on Madrid derby
“The sensations are good. The team is very good, the other day we played a great game despite ending up drawing. I really think that the team did a great job that must be maintained for this match,” Llorente said in an interview with Diario AS.
When asked whether or not Real Madrid being tagged as favourites could aid Atleti, the midfielder said, “Honestly, it neither motivates me nor demotivates me. We simply have to do what we work on during the week, what the coach asks of us.”
Llorente stressed the importance of the game, adding, “It is a great rival we have in front of us, they are having a very good start to the season and that motivates me and everyone to try to play a good game.”
“Real Madrid is a great club, they have great players and it is very difficult to beat them. I think we have competed, we have also achieved several draws, but in the end, either you go out one hundred percent and do things very, very well or it is difficult to beat them,” he added.
A former member of the Real Madrid youth academy, Llorente joined Atletico Madrid in 2019. Since then, he has racked up over 150 competitive appearances for Los Colchoneros.
Llorente, though, said he feels no sense of vindication when he performs well against his former team.
“No. In the end, it’s been many years since I left there and I’m at Atlético. Perhaps in the first years, those types of feelings and sensations can arise, but today they no longer do,” he said.
Llorente on Vinicius, Koke & Bellingham
The Atletico Madrid star went on to talk about other aspects of the game, including the fact that his team had one less player every time they faced Real Madrid last season.
“I have zero worries. These are things that are not in our remit, that escape our hands. We play football, the referees referee and those who have to decide decide,” he said.
Llorente, in fact, said that the return of Koke could be a real boost for Atleti. “It is always good that Koke is with us, both on the field and in the day-to-day life of the game,” he said.
“Beyond the grass. The support he gives, the advice he gives us, his experience. it is always important to have him and it is great news that he is already training with us,” he added.
Talking about the absence of Vinicius Junior and the form of Jude Bellingham, Llorente said, “Well, you have to be careful with everyone. All Real Madrid players are very good and can make a difference at any moment of the game. Bellingham is having a great start and we have to take that into account and be very focused.”
Finally, Marcos Llorente put out a message for all the Atletico Madrid fans, claiming their support ahead of this crucial encounter this weekend.
“It will be a full house as always. We don’t have to tell them anything, they know the importance of this match for Atlético, we know that they never fail, they are always supporting us and we count on them,” he said.