Diego Simeone has problems to fix in his team’s midfield heading into the new season. Rodrigo de Paul has not lived up to his billing so far in the red-and-white colours while Koke’s performances have also been on a steady decline.
To rub salt into the wounds, Hector Herrera has confirmed his departure from the club and Daniel Wass is struggling to adapt to Los Rojiblancos’ system. Needless to say, there are cracks to be filled in the middle of the park.
Earlier this month, Valencia offered the services of Carlos Soler to Atletico Madrid and his signing is becoming more of a possibility with every passing day. However, Ruben Uria of Goal reports that Simeone’s side are in no hurry to negotiate.
The club know that time plays in their favour for the Spaniard’s transfer. Valencia are in an economic crisis and desperately requires the money before June 30th. As it stands, the Madrid based club plan to speed up the negotiations at the end of the month to secure his signing for a fee of around €15 million.
Soler was a bright spark in an otherwise uninspiring Valencia side last season, scoring 11 goals and providing five assists in 28 league starts. However, his departure from the club seems inevitable as he is one of the few players his team can hope to cash in on.
The 25-year-old has just over a year left on his contract and will be a free agent in the summer of 2023. Barcelona, Real Madrid and Napoli are amongst the other top European sides interested in signing the talented midfielder.
Atletico Madrid cannot afford to postpone talks for long as the player has several options on his table.
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.