The special connection between Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid is something seldom spoken about. The Argentine manager single-handedly pulled Los Colchoneros out of the water upon his arrival and constructed a champion team capable of competing on all fronts.
This season, his side have not gotten off to the best of starts. Los Rojiblancos have dropped points in two of their first four games and currently sit seventh on the league standings.
Earlier this week, Simeone spoke to ESPN Futbol Argentina where he gave his thoughts on his tenure at the club so far and the current season. Here are the snippets from his interview.
The 2016 Champions League final will go down as one of the worst moments in Simeone’s professional career. His men had the UCL title in their hands but painfully let it slip away in the penalty shootout against arch-rivals Real Madrid. The manager said that he still considered it a failure on his part.
“I knew we could win that Champions League, and I didn’t win it. So for me, it’s a failure. I was convinced that we could win it, I swear.”
Atletico Madrid and Argentina midfielder Rodrigo de Paul faced severe criticism at the end of last season for his sub-par performance in his first year at the club. However, Simeone outright denied the sentiment and spoke about the midfielder’s role in the team.
“He plays much better than I played. He looks better than what I saw. He is a boy who has a special place. He has football leadership. Here at Atlético, we need him, we invite him to compete.”
The Argentine’s father, Carlos Simeone, passed away earlier this year. Cholo spoke about his special bond with his father and added that he missed him.
“I miss my father, how would I not? He passed away not too long ago and I’m sure that he’s watching us from wherever he is. I’m neither more nor less like any kid who losses his dad. I miss him a lot.”
A lot has been made over Atletico’s nom colourful methodology of winning games by low margins. Some have gone to the extreme of calling it anti-football. Yet, Simeone defended his philosophy when asked by the Argentine outlet.
“I ask all those who are creative, spectacular, and extraordinary, it’s the end of the world and you are offered to win 1-0 but while playing badly, do you take it or not?
“Because I have had teammates who were quality, really good on the ball, and one day they would tell me ‘Look, we have to win today’ [and I would think] ‘Ahh today? Just today? Not other days?’ (Laughs).”
Atletico Madrid will face off against FC Porto in their first game of the 2022/23 UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night.
Atletico Madrid will try to sign Arsenal, Liverpool target for free in the summer
Atletico Madrid saw a lot of movement during the January transfer window as they saw several players leave, while also bringing in a couple of new faces in.
But one player who they tried to sign and could not is Borussia Monchengladbach forward Marcus Thuram.
Indeed, according to AS, was on the top of director Andrea Berta’s list for the winter window as he is in the final six months of his contract. But, Gladbach asked for a fee of around €10-12 million to offload him, which prompted Atletico Madrid to move for Depay instead.
But the report states that Thuram continues to be on the agenda at the Civitas Metropolitano and Berta will try to sign him again in the summer transfer window.
However, there will be intense competition for the 25-year-old’s services given that he will be available for a free transfer at the end of the season.
Juventus and Inter Milan have shown an interest in Thuram, but there are a lot of clubs in England wishing to sign him up.
Indeed, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur are all said to be gunning for the French forward’s signing while more clubs could join the list of his suitors as days progress.
So, it will be important for Atletico Madrid to achieve a top-four finish in La Liga and qualify for the UEFA Champions League for next season if they wish to attract a player of Thuram’s capability and calibre.
The 25-year-old has netted 13 goals and set up four more in 19 matches across all competitions. His ability to play anywhere across the frontline makes him an attractive prospect for interested parties such as Atletico.
But given the intense competition, Diego Simeone & co. will need to act swiftly if they wish to sign Thuram.