Happy Thursday! Atlético Madrid returned to training in Majadahonda today with 11 members of the 2016-17 team in tow, along with five academy players and four players returning from loan.
Šime Vrsaljko looks so happy! And the training kits look very sharp.
The big news from Wednesday centered on Fernando Torres, whose latest one-year renewal was at last made official. It had been in the works for months, and Torres reportedly was subject to a substantial offer from Liga MX side Queretaro. But the deal got done in the end and it’s good news for player and club.
No, this Torres is never coming back, but there’s no question the 33-year-old still offers value to Atlético. At this stage in his career, he’s a defensive forward with athleticism, good aerial abilities and a capacity to chip in the odd goal. He has linked up well with Antoine Griezmann since the pair first played together in January 2015. If he has someone next to him who can bag a lot of goals, he’s totally fine. But since Griezmann functions more as a #7/#10 hybrid in Diego Simeone’s setup, Torres’ inconsistencies in front of goal become more prominent when he starts.
The possible January arrival of a certain Diego Costa will mitigate those inconsistencies and allow Simeone to bring on Torres as a super sub - the best role for him at this point anyway.
Last season Torres played 42% of the minutes, scored 10 goals, made 6 assists & won 3 penalties— أحمد حسيني (@A_Hossainy) July 5, 2017
Who doesn't want such a player on his bench?
In short: El Niño remains more than useful for El Cholo, and he’ll be overjoyed at playing in A Stadium Called Wanda in its opening season. Also, he likely will start the majority of games through December, which will lead many to become frustrated with the club legend. My advice: get used to it and don’t drag him so much for his lack of goals, as he remains effective in several other areas.
Speaking of things that we all knew were going to happen but took forever to get confirmed: Atlético announced Theo Hernández’ transfer to Real Madrid on Wednesday, and the club’s statement...well, here’s an excerpt:
If you thought Atlético were pleased at how Theo angled for a departure, think again. This just drips with bitterness and loathing over the player’s exit and the process surrounding it. After all, the club insisted that it did everything possible to placate the 19-year-old left back.
I’ve said my piece about Theo - most recently here. It’s not so simple as “Atlético pocketed €30 million for someone who never played a minute for the first team.” He’s a great talent who could have transformed the left back position at Atleti, especially as Filipe Luís enters his age-32 season.
Atlético and Chelsea are still negotiating for Diego Costa, but the next few days should see the heat turned up on both sides to get a deal done. It’s apparently close enough that we’re getting the first “in the next hours” tweets, this one from AS reporter Manu Sainz.
En las próximas horas se hará oficial el fichaje de Diego Costa por el Atlético.— Manu Sainz (@Manu_Sainz) July 5, 2017
Of course, the Guardian sees it a bit differently, saying Atlético have yet to table an official bid (which...I don’t really believe). It is feasible that Atleti and Chelsea are still apart on the 28-year-old’s transfer fee, and it would be best for all parties if an agreement was struck for a price similar to the €36 million which brought the Spain international to London in the first place.
This thread from our Twitter account explains why despite a potential gap in valuation, Atleti probably have the upper hand in Costa talks as it stands.
AS: no agreement yet between Atlético and Chelsea for Diego Costa, but negotiations will intensify in the coming days for two reasons:— Into the Calderón (@intothecalderon) July 5, 2017
It looks good right now, but remember that nothing is simple in Atletiland.