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Contracts in the Time of Coronavirus: The defense

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Atleti’s first-team contract review moves on to Simeone’s rebuilt defense.

Liverpool FC v Atletico Madrid - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg Photo by Michael Regan - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images
Once again, I refer you to Robbie Dunne’s handy chart.

The anchors

Jan Oblak

Age 27

Contract length To 2023 (signed April 17, 2019)

Need a renewal? Always. His salary is higher than everyone except the coach, but Oblak’s €120 million release clause is attainable if another big club wants to go after him.

What the future holds Well, hopefully Oblak stays forever. Still, it seems likely he stays a while yet.

Chelsea might need a new keeper, but it would have to take a big loss on €80 million man Kepa. Bayern Munich are set. Juventus are set. Manchesters City and United are set. Paris Saint-Germain, too, for the short-to medium-term. You can forget the Spanish teams. So while things could change at a moment’s notice, the sport’s richest aren’t really in need of an elite goalkeeper. That’s terrific news for Atlético Madrid.

Felipe Monteiro

Age 30

Contract length To 2022 (July 1, 2019)

Need a renewal? Maybe higher wages based on his performance. The Brazilian has slotted in nicely as Diego Godín’s veteran replacement. He’s been Atlético’s best defender by miles and one of the team’s leaders in just his first season.

What the future holds Assuming full fitness, Felipe is entrenched as a starter for next season. Another solid campaign will see him earn one of the club’s patented one-year renewals for senior citizens (i.e. those over 30).

Kieran Trippier

Age 28

Contract length To 2022 (July 17, 2019)

Need a renewal? Not now. He is solidly mid-table on the wages chart and signed through his age-31 season.

What the future holds Trips has impressed in his first season on foreign soil, improving as a defender and adding an attacking dimension that Atlético lost when Juanfran aged out. But his health is something to watch — he’s lost a month or more to groin injuries the past two seasons.

Atletico Madrid v Liverpool FC - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg Photo by Baldesca Samper/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Renan Lodi

Age 22

Contract length To 2025 (July 7, 2019)

Need a renewal? No. Lodi is on a long-term deal, and his wages are commensurate with his experience and youth.

What the future holds Even though Diego Simeone has lost patience at times with his green left back, Lodi will get more time to make the position his own and fill Filipe Luís’ shoes. He adapted quickly to the team’s attacking needs but must work on his defending — locking up Trent Alexander-Arnold in Madrid was his best display of the season, and most of Atlético’s opponents have picked on him. Over the rest of this season and into the next, he has to become at least capable defensively or Simeone could lose faith in him.

The wild cards

José Giménez

Age 25

Contract length To 2023 (June 23, 2018)

Need a renewal? No.

What the future holds Given his prodigious talent, Atlético have been loath to put Giménez on the market even as he lost a combined 35 games to injury the past two years. He has a €120 million release clause that most clubs wouldn’t touch given that injury history. On top of that, Giménez’s wages are reasonable and he is one of the team’s captains.

Despite the frustration his muscular maladies causes, Atleti can afford to keep working with Joséma to get him on the pitch for a full season. Anything he contributes from now until the summer would be helpful, too.

Stefan Savić

Age 29

Contract length To 2022 (renewed during the 2017/18 season)

Need a renewal? No. Another player making more than Thomas Partey who...shouldn’t be.

What the future holds Simeone has always liked Savić more than most. Without squinting too hard, you can see why — the Montenegrin rings up lots of clearances, routinely wins aerial duels and has improved positionally this season (dribbled past just once every five games according to per 90 statistics). He’s pretty popular in the dressing room, too.

However, Savić remains subject to highly-damaging brain farts that, all things being equal, prevent him from starting week in and week out. At 29 years old, he probably is what he is at this point — a useful third-choice central defender on most days.

Valencia CF v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga Photo by David Aliaga/MB Media/Getty Images

Šime Vrsaljko

Age 28

Contract length To 2022 (Feb. 5, 2018)

Need a renewal? Vrsaljko rose like a phoenix from the ashes of a devastating left knee injury at Inter Milan and — in an even more surprising twist — gained Simeone’s trust upon his return. He started a Madrid Derby and played in both legs (no pun intended) against Liverpool!

That said, Vrsaljko doesn’t need a new contract right now as he’s slated to remain Trippier’s backup.

What the future holds Atlético finally found depth at right back, having needed it since 2016. Trippier and an upright Vrsaljko form one of LaLiga’s better duos at the position — and the latter can play some left back, boosting his value immensely.

If the Croatia veteran’s knee issues are behind him, Vrsaljko gives Simeone cover for Lodi in case the youngster struggles over the rest of this long season. The COVID-mandated break from action surely can’t do more damage to and will probably help his battered left knee — also the one he injured in 2017.

The exit ramp

Antonio Adán

Age 32

Contract length To 2020 (July 10, 2018)

Need a renewal? No.

What the future holds A move away. Adán was Atlético’s Copa keeper the past two seasons and was in goal for shock eliminations versus Girona and at Cultural Leonesa. He started one meaningless league game, conceding twice at Levante nearly a year ago. It would be...a surprise not to see Los Colchoneros seek a new understudy for Oblak.

Mario Hermoso

Age 24

Contract length To 2024 (July 18, 2019)

Need a renewal? No.

What the future holds Hermoso’s first year back in the capital has seen him receive one run of extended, unconvincing game time following a breakout year at Espanyol. Giménez and Savić returned to fitness just as he seemed to turn the corner, and he’s played only twice in 2020.

Atleti have been linked with an aggressive pursuit of Real Valladolid’s young star Mohammed Salisu, and the club also has Argentina U-20 captain Nehuén Pérez playing in Portugal on loan. As such, Spain international Hermoso could make way — at least on loan, possibly permanently. That would suck.