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Atlético Madrid Seasonal Player Ratings 2018/19: Forwards

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Our season review concludes with a look/glare at Simeone’s forward corps.

Deportivo Alaves v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Sergio Camello/Borja Garcés/Joaquín Muñoz: N/A

Each canterano made one appearance in LaLiga, and two scored dramatic goals. Garcés scored a 94th minute equalizer versus Eibar in September, while Camello’s 79th minute tap-in at Levante secured a 2-2 draw. Joaquín made a quick substitute appearance in a 3-0 win at Huesca in January.

Unfortunately, Borja sustained a knee ligament injury later in the year and could miss all of next season, but it’s conceivable that 18-year-old hotshot Camello could get a few chances in 2019/20.

Diego Costa: 5.8

I tried my best here to sum up Diego’s disastrous season. I’m not sure what else to add, since he hasn’t played since that column went up. Just a nightmare all around, and the former Spain international has an unclear future ahead.

Nikola Kalinić: 6.2

I really have only one question as it pertains to Kalinić.

Why?

Kalinić played just 641 league minutes and 111 in the Champions League with just two goals — those came within seven days of each other, in wins against Alavés and Valladolid. His final goal came during the ill-fated Copa del Rey run, in January, against Girona. He made only six appearances after Jan. 16, with two starts, and was a total non-factor as Atlético Madrid limped to the finish line.

The Croatian’s move from AC Milan on a three-year contract was interesting in theory, but little happened in practice. Diego Simeone wanted a cheap, steady target man to back up Costa, but Kalinić had come off a bad season at Milan and was sent home from the World Cup for disciplinary issues.

I have sympathy for how little Kalinić played, and I would like to have seen him get 1,000 minutes to prove his worth. That said, if Simeone realized quickly that he made a mistake, perhaps it’s for the best that the 31-year-old didn’t see a ton of time and will almost certainly leave in the summer.

SD Huesca v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Antoine Griezmann: 6.9

Expected to lead the charge as Atlético attempted to qualify for a Champions League final at home, Griezmann began the season strongly — particularly in Europe, where he scored or set up a goal in four of Atleti’s six group games. Then, between Dec. 15 and Jan. 26, the Frenchman scored or assisted a goal in eight straight games. Los Colchoneros did not lose any of said games — though Griezmann’s 85th minute heroics could not save the team from Copa del Rey elimination.

However — and not for the first time during his stint in Madrid — Griezmann fell away at a critical time in the season. The World Cup winner lost form and did not contribute to the scoreline in any of Atlético’s six games between Feb. 20 and March 16. Of course, this stretch included both Juventus fixtures. It was around this time that he was in the final stages of negotiating a contract to join Barcelona, per reports.

The 28-year-old’s productivity — another season with double-digit goals and assists across all competitions — always overshadowed his streakiness. His importance to Simeone’s setup belied his inability to deliver consistently in big moments at club level, the one single factor that will always separate him from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo — the players to whom he compares himself so often.

Griezmann’s final season in the capital will be remembered as a disappointment, given the salary it took to convince him to stay and the fact that he is set to join a major domestic rival on July 1. If nothing else, it will be fascinating to see where he fits in at Barça and if the tail end of his prime years will be worth his €120 million release clause.

Álvaro Morata: 7

Desperate for a change of scenery, Morata embraced a loan move to his boyhood club in January and established himself quickly as Cholo’s first-choice #9. The Chelsea forward worked his socks off at Atlético and won back a place in the national team. The 26-year-old added an aerial dimension sorely missing from the forward cadre — he won five aerial duels per 90 minutes in LaLiga and even showed some understanding with Griezmann, though Simeone’s attempts to form a trident with his forwards produced poor results.

Morata completed his half-season with six goals from 1,089 minutes, good for second on the team. His work rate and heading ability added punch to an underwhelming group and set him up nicely for a big 2019/20 season as an unquestioned starter.