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Captain Koke and the march to 552

Nuestro Capitán currently sits on 415 career appearances, a mere 137 away from Atlético’s all-time record. How long will it take for Koke to surpass Adelardo?

RCD Espanyol v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

In modern football, all-time club appearance records seem set in stone. But our own Jorge Resurrección Merodio has a chance to break Atlético Madrid’s. With practically all of the 2013/14 title team gone, Koke seems likely to remain at Atlético for the foreseeable future, so the question has become when not if he will break the record.

Last season, Koke made 41 appearances in all competitions — his lowest since 2011/12, which is amazing in and of itself. The reason for this was two muscle injuries which cost him eight total matches. Prior to last year, Koke had three consecutive seasons with at least 50 appearances, a testament to his durability over the years.

If we assume Koke makes around 45-50 appearances per season, it is possible that the record is well within reach in just three seasons, barring injury. It is perhaps more realistic to assume he will achieve that goal in four seasons, especially since he will be in his early 30s by that stage — generally the point where players become more susceptible to injuries.

The other potential issue is that Koke is essentially unparalleled in the amount of appearances he has made for his age — with the notable exception of Lionel Messi, who had 10 more career appearances than Koke through his first ten seasons. The mileage on Koke’s legs does make one a bit nervous about how he may age once he gets to his 30s. But as mentioned earlier, Koke has not had a significant injury thus far in his career. (Fingers crossed here that doesn’t change.)

There is only one other road block to Koke breaking the record, and that is a departure. Frankly, Koke seems like the least likely player — perhaps in all of Europe — to request a transfer, but in the modern game we cannot be sure. Right now, it certainly seems like Koke could be a Francesco Totti or Tony Adams-esque figure for Atlético. And Koke surely has to be aware that he has a really good chance to break a record that, in a modern game where players move frequently, may never be broken again.

Now, for the best guess: I will go out on a limb and say it will happen in the first two months of the 2022/23 season. My rationale here is three seasons of 45 appearances will take Koke to 550, and 45 seems like a solid bet taking into account potential season of over 50 or around 40 (like last year). It is certainly possible it happens in 2021/22, but I’ll err on the side of conservatism here.

Poll

When will Koke surpass Adelardo’s record of 551 appearances?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    2020/21
    (21 votes)
  • 41%
    2021/22
    (68 votes)
  • 41%
    2022/23
    (67 votes)
  • 4%
    Koke will not break the record
    (7 votes)
163 votes total Vote Now