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Atletico Madrid goalkeeper set to return to the club following Lille loan



Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images

Over the past few years, Jan Oblak has set the bar so high for himself that he fell prey to his own greatness this season.

The Slovenian established himself as one of the best shot-stoppers in the world with his remarkable consistency but has not enjoyed the same form this year.

In 37 league starts, Oblak has kept only 12 clean sheets and averages more than one goal conceded every ninety minutes. Moreover, he records less than two saves per game and has saved only one of eight penalties faced this season.

Though there is little reason to panic over Oblak’s slight dip in form, the club require an able backup option to cover for the 29-year-old. One of the options is Ivo Grbic, though he is not the management’s first choice.

The Croatian arrived at Wanda Metropolitano in August 2020 from Lokomotiv Moscow and spent a year under Diego Simeone. However, he made only one appearance and decided to leave the club in search of more minutes.

In 2021, he left Simeone’s side to join Lille in Ligue 1 on a loan deal. His contract with the French side included a €8 million purchase clause that was not mandatory.

According to reports from Ruben Uria of Goal, Lille have opted against using their purchase option on the goalkeeper. Unless an offer arrives, Grbic will return to Atletico Madrid at the end of the season and will participate in preseason as a substitute for Jan Oblak.

The 26-year-old has started 21 league games for Lille this season and has maintained just two clean sheets. He concedes 1.3 goals per game on average but has made close to three saves per game during the same duration.

Grbic could be a valuable option to the manager next season, especially given the situation of Oblak. However, it remains to be seen if the Croat accepts a subsidiary role.

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Atletico Madrid News

Atletico Madrid midfielder on the derby against Real Madrid: “Very difficult to beat them”



Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images

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.

Marcos Llorente confident of Atletico Madrid’s chances ahead of the derby (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)

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.

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