Atletico Madrid’s early elimination from the UEFA Champions has the club neck-deep in financial trouble and the situation is not getting any better.
Los Rojiblancos had accounted for a deeper run in Europe and estimated larger returns from the competition. Their disastrous run and failure to qualify even for the Europa League have them on the brink and the management must take drastic decisions.
It is almost certain that some players need to leave Diego Simeone’s side in the winter transfer window. Moreover, the club’s crippling situation means that they will have to sell any player with suitors, for it is the need of the hour.
According to reports from England, as relayed by Mundo Deportivo, Geoffrey Kondogbia is one with a high chance of a departure come January, especially given the interest in his signing from the Premier League.
Aston Villa are said to be exploring possibilities to secure his arrival, especially given that Unai Emery knows the player well.
It is not the first time that the English club have been linked with Kondogbia, for former manager Steven Gerard was a fan of the midfielder too. Despite their best attempts, however, an agreement did not materialize last summer.
The 29-year-old’s contract with Atletico Madrid runs out in 2024, leaving just over a year on his deal. Needless to say, it is the right time for the club to part ways with the player if indeed they wish to.
The Central African Republic international has played in 11 La Liga games for Los Rojiblancos this season, providing just one assist in the process. However, he has been relentless in defence, averaging close to ten defensive actions per ninety minutes.
Apart from Kondogbia, the likes of Matheus Cunha, Thomas Lemar and Joao Felix could also depart, with the latter even asking to leave the club.
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.