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A Case Study: Leaving Atletico Madrid

Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone

Stu Forster/Getty Images

We can thank Joni Mitchell for the inspiration behind this latest piece. It was the the Canadian folk-singer's seminal work that produced the line, "don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone." We are writing this on the back of news that Chelsea are considering the option of cancelling Radamel Falcao's loan spell and may even be willing to take the financial hit on sending him back to Monaco. Monaco don't seem to want him or his wages and we advise you to keep an eye on your local Sunday league fixtures as Falcao could be popping up 'down the park' any day at this rate.


Nobody likes change and that has never been truer for many of Atletico Madrid's recent stars, most noticeably under Diego Simeone. Understandably, there are players who have left for the sole reason of saving their careers. There are players who saw the money and ran. There is also a growing belief that the whole of Diego Simeone's team is better than the sum of its parts. That is to say, BUYER BEWARE! Atletico Madrid players do well at the Calderon under Simeone and need a period of adjustment under new management and in a new environment that does not lend itself well to current footballing principles. (Editor's Note: You also have ridiculously successful players like Sergio Aguero, David de Gea etc, but that was before Simeone.)

Diego Simeone's tactics and his request, nay demand, that his players give it their all has become a cliche. However, when you take into account the miles that many of his players put on the clock, a six to eight week period of re-integration into normal footballing society might be necessary. He is rigid, for sure, and moving to a new club with a new coach and a new voice in your ear can be troublesome for many.

Atletico's biggest departures, three if you count Filipe Luis, have been flops. That does not bode well for Arda Turan, a man who burned plenty of diesel during his time at the Calderon, having left the Calderon for Barcelona during the summer. Here's to you, Arda, and may all your dreams come true in the Camp Nou.

The Examples

In trying to decide whether to run this article in ascending or descending order, start strong and finish strong or just write as the names flowed, I decided, for the purpose of clarity, to make sure that Falcao was at the very top of the list. Never has a man fallen as far as the Colombian since leaving Madrid to join Monaco in 2013. He has scored 18 goals in all competitions in the last three years. Pitiful when you consider he scored 34 goals during his last season in Madrid. He will, most likely, never be the same player that he was and leaving Atletico now looks like the worst career move he could have made. He tore his ACL during that time but that only paints a small portion of the picture, is too reductionist and does not explain his fall from grace.

Diego Costa has struggled this year and in the second half of last year in his adaptation to English football. He has not helped his cause, of course, and this behaviour has become a weekly affair. Minus the goals to back it up, it just seems childish and inappropriate. His behaviour was similar in Madrid but with Atletico's players all playing with that edge and less of a microscope on La Liga, it seemed as though Costa blended in with the crowd. Simeone knew how to handle his hothead and he was prolific, if not down right sensational, for the club. The English media have anointed him 'Luis Suarez II' and we all know what happened to Luis once the English media decided it was time for him to go. That is not to defend Suarez as he did do some despicable stuff. We would like to comment, and we speak on behalf of all Atletico Madrid fans that we would welcome Diego back with open arms.

Mario Suarez could be an outlier. He left Atletico Madrid last summer for €15 million and has struggled to settle into life in Florence. The guys over at Viola Nation do a better job of explaining his situation here but they hint at him being an enigma, which he is, and they also hint at a move to Liverpool or possibly Sevilla. Atletico extrapolated the maximum for a player who was not going to play and was pushing for a move. Suarez looked a lot better in rojoblanco than he does in viola.

Then you have Mario Mandzukic. The Croatian joined Juventus last summer and brought with him a small articulated truck full of baggage and behavioural problems. He has struggled massively since joining the Italian giants and is on the verge of completely losing his place to Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala. Another case of Atletico selling for the maximum and moving on without losing pace.

You could write an entirely separate article regarding Jorge Mendes' involvement but Atletico seem to have made out okay in recent years when wheeling and dealing in the market place. They know when to pull the trigger and sell when a player's stock is at its highest. They know when a player needs to be cut loose and know when a player is replaceable.

Honorary mention

For a while, it looked like Fernando Torres lost the ability to kick a football and seemed disorientated on the football field. He did have an especially good period upon his departure from the Calderon and that must be remembered. He returned home, though, and nobody is doubting that!

The next question is "Who's next?" Could it be that an offer that can not be refused for Griezmann arrives on Simeone's desk this summer? Could Koke leave his boyhood club? Obviously, we can't tell you that but we can be sure that there will be some major teething problems along the way for anybody who leave the Calderon before their time.