Atletico Madrid have started to make the hard choices. Diego Simeone has decided which of the team’s fringe players will be kept, loaned or sold for the upcoming season. We know already the decision taken with academy forward Borja Baston; that has been much discussed here and on Twitter and will not be rehashed in this article.
Another young striker on the fringes of the first team was Rafael Santos Borre. The highly-rated Colombian, just 20 years old, impressed some in preseason after his midsummer introduction as an Atletico player. But his age and Atleti’s depth at the position - Antoine Griezmann, Kevin Gameiro, Angel Correa and Fernando Torres - meant Santos Borre was unlikely to play a major role in 2016-17. Accordingly, Atleti began receiving loan inquiries, and in the middle of Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Nigerian All-Stars in the Trofeo Carranza, Villarreal announced it was to take the player on loan.
This is unexpected. Santos Borre will not get the opportunity to work with one of the best Spanish managers around, but he gets to ply his trade immediately at a Champions League club. That is a big step forward for the young...forward. We’ll see how much playing time he is given under Fran Escriba - probably a good amount in the wake of Roberto Soldado’s ACL injury - but Villarreal is an excellent landing spot for him regardless and will show just how ready he is for the big time.