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The Weekly Rojiblanco: Doldrums Edition

Transfer speculation and other business.

Sevilla v Atletico Madrid - La Liga Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images
  • Costa, others add to Griezmann Debate

Happy Saturday Atléticos, and welcome to a new Weekly Rojiblanco. It’s that time of the year when title races and the hunt for European football heat up. It’s also time for the last international window of the season so all that excitement will have to wait.

The break comes at perhaps a good time for Atlético Madrid, who stumbled against Villarreal last weekend. The loss allowed Barcelona to pull away in the title race and menas surging Real Madrid and Valencia sides have pulled within striking distance of second. Atlético will have their work cut out for them if they hope to finish above their bitter rivals.

In the meantime, Atleti’s international call-ups are facing a fresh another round of press opportunities, the key subject of which is the future of Antoine Griezmann. On Wednesday Griezmann indicated that he hoped to have his future decided before the World Cup but was vague on details. Now other teammates have started to weigh in.

Diego Costa revealed that “[Girezmann] called me before and told me to come to Atlético. I don’t think he will leave me alone now.” He added “he knows that he is an important player for Atlético. He is still with us and we hope it stays that way.”

Meanwhile, Koke was more blunt in an interview for Cadena COPE: “To play for Atleti you have to be committed. If Griezmann wants to be here then he will play here, but if you are playing for this club you have to be totally engaged with it. I want to finish my career at Atletico, I want to spend my entire life here and I don’t want to play for another club.”

It is clear that uncertainty around Griezmann’s future—or perhaps constant questioning thereof—is starting to weigh on his teammates. He is a popular character and an important piece of the picture for the club right now, and his decision will surely be the story of the summer.

  • Oblak also noncommittal

Jan Oblak has also been the center of speculation and was unwilling go into specifics about his future per a report from AS.

“As for the possibility of a new contract with Atlético, I can only say one thing: there’s nothing new,” Oblak said. “I’ve seen what has been written in the press - some claim everything has been sorted and others are saying that I won’t be offered a new contract. The only thing I do know is there are no updates, nothing new. I have a contract which I signed two years ago and you, the media, want to know what is going to happen now. We’ll soon find out what Atlético’s plans are.”

The Slovene has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal and Liverpool.

  • Possible replacements/insurance for Filipe Luís

With increasingly fragile fullback Filipe Luis sidelined with a fractured shinbone, Atletico may be looking toward the future at that position. Recent reports have linked los rojiblancos with Fiorentina defender Germán Pezzella and youngster Rayan Aït Nouri from the Angers youth academy.

Pezzella recently earned a call-up to a talented Argentina side, while Aït Nouri is considered a top young prospect in France.

  • Atleti to open two academies in China

Just a little over a month since Dailian Wanda group divested its shares in Atlético Madrid, the Chinese megaconglomerate is back in business with the club. This new arrangement concerns the development of at least two youth academies in China, as well as other outreach programs to build the Atlético brand in Asia.

It will be interesting to see how efforts such as this will impact player development in a country with an increasingly voracious appetite for the beautiful game.