After an underwhelming run across competitions last season, Atletico Madrid aim to bounce back stronger in 2022/23. It is safe to say that of the three giants in La Liga, Los Colchoneros have made the most dominant start to the new season.
A 3-0 win over Getafe sees them atop the La Liga table with the joint highest goal difference. Needless to say, the club do not plan to part ways with any of their players as they look to assemble a formidable squad.
According to AS, Los Rojiblancos rejected three blockbuster offers in recent days. They turned down a €40 million proposal from Manchester United for Matheus Cunha and declined the same amount from Juventus and Chelsea for Alvaro Morata and Marcos Llorente, respectively.
Morata starred in the team’s win over Getafe, scoring two goals this past weekend. Interestingly, Juventus had a €35 million purchase clause on his loan deal last season that expired.
Llorente too started on the night in midfield and played until the hour mark. The Spaniard has grown into one of the club’s most vital players under Simeone and will be crucial this season.
While Cunha played just 11 minutes in the league opener, the manager rates the Brazilian highly and has spoken about giving him more opportunities this season. It is not surprising that he outright declined the chance to join United.
It has also been reported that Atletico Madrid rejected a €130 million offer from the Red Devils to sign Joao Felix. If anything, this is the sign of a team willing to put everything on the line to win on all fronts.
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.