Atletico Madrid were hit with a transfer ban yesterday that was coming for quite some time. News initially broke at the start of the year that both Atletico and Real Madrid would be banned for the illegal transfer of youths but had there bans lifted temporarily as appeals were investigated.
Those appeals failed and now the writing is on the wall; Atletico will have to suffice with what they have until January 2018.
The average age of their squad is 27 but with three of their most important defenders 30 years of age or older, this might create problems if they proper replacements are not in the squad or out on loan at the moment. That’s why we have decided to take a look at the players on loan and how they might be used if needed in the 18 months.
Axel Werner - 20 - Goalkeeper
It is not secret that Atletico have one of the best young goalkeepers in the world in Jan Oblak. Atletico have done well to sign Werner from Boca Juniors as a back-up to the Slovenian just in case something goes wrong. They also have Andre Moreira, who they have recalled from a loan spell, as Miguel Angel Moya recovers from knee surgery.
Atletico have depth and youth on their side in goals and should be more than okay in this position for the foreseeable future.
Emiliano Velazquez - 22 - Central Defender
Velazquez is currently on loan at Braga in Portugal following a spell at Getafe on loan last year. Time will tell whether Velazquez can make it at Atletico but even if he doesn’t, Jose Gimenez, Stefan Savic and Lucas Hernandez can and will step up should anything happen to the spiritual leader of the team - Diego Godin.
Simeone currently has too many top quality defenders - if there is such a thing - with Gimenez crying out for playing time and Savic holding down his spot to begin the season. Lucas Hernandez has done exceptionally well when called upon and there is no fear that Atletico will be left short-handed at the back during the transfer ban.
Theo Hernandez - 18 - Left Back
The younger brother of Lucas, Theo is a sprightly left-back, who can also operate at centre-half. Filipe Luis has been Atletico’s stand-out player to open the season and looks to be getting better with age. He is 31 though and a replacement or reliable back-up might be necessary in the coming 18 months.
Hernandez will get excellent experience at Alaves this season in La Liga and will most likely be drafted back in next summer to ensure the club have cover at the position. It also must be noted that his older brother, Lucas, is a left-back too and has earned Simeone’s trust. Sime Vrsaljko can play there too, although he is more natural as a right-back.
Atletico’s current full-backs are in excellent shape and the men who will replace them with time look just as capable with plenty of quality.
Matias Kranevitter - 23 - Defensive Midfield
Atletico might have a problem at the base of midfield in terms of style and personnel in the next 18 months. Gabi and Tiago are in their mid-30s and Atletico appear to be verging on a new era, in which attack needs to be a priority.
That means just one deep-lying midfielder with Saul and Koke as the other two midfielders operating as more box-to-box options.
Augusto Fernandez still has plenty to offer having just turned 30 but Atletico need to be careful that they don’t stagnate at this position while also preserving Tiago and Gabi’s last couple of years.
Two defensive-minded midfielders might seem overkill against weaker teams but they are necessary when the bigger boys come to town. Ensuring the proper rotation is deployed in this role is vital and once a spot opens up in the squad for another DM, Kranevitter should slot in nicely as he hones his craft at Sevilla at present.
Bernard Mensah - 21 - Attacking Midfield
Atletico have plenty of options in attacking midfield, but again, it depends on how Simeone opts to play. Koke is an ideal number 10 and Nico Gaitan can play there too but a lot will depend on whether Cholo decides Gaitan is suited to that role and whether he can compromise on Koke’s work-rate in order to have him in a creative, attacking midfield role.
Thomas Partey and Saul offer a lot of energy behind the attacking midfield but Mensah might offer something if he does return from his loan spell. The other question is whether he has what it takes to make it at Atletico, but nevertheless the options are there.
Diogo Jota - 19 - Left Wing
This was a strange transfer to begin with but Jota has moved to Porto on loan with an option to buy. He did not impress Diego Simeone, who is notorious for the scrutiny he puts on new signings. It happened to Antoine Griezmann and he passed the test but Jota might be a different story.
Depending on how he does at Porto, this might not even be worth analysing but he is an Atletico player and was supposed to be one of Portugal’s next great exports.
Carrasco and Gaitan might have the wing positions locked in for the next couple of years meaning Jota would have only been a bit-part player anyway but his time at Atletico might already be over with his move to Porto.
Santos Borre - 20 - Striker
Atletico might have to brace themselves for the loss of Antoine Griezmann in the coming windows but he assured fans that he would not leave unless Simeone does. At the launch of his book recently, Simeone assured fans he wanted to usher in Atletico’s new era at La Peineta meaning he would stay until, at least, the end of next season.
Borre is a striker with no experience in La Liga. He will get plenty with Villarreal this season but that does not necessarily mean he will fit into Simeone’s system.
Atletico have had to re-organise their striking options twice in two seasons and might be in trouble if Kevin Gameiro’s transfer does not work out and Fernando Torres’ form deserts him.
Angel Correa wanted to leave to get more minutes this summer but Simeone insisted he would be needed and would get good quality minutes. This might suggest a lack of faith in the players he has there at present, or anxiety over whether they will gel. This position might change from one month to the next but it is refreshing that Correa and Santos Borre are there if needed in the next year or two.