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Atlético Madrid’s squad depth: Attackers

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Suárez makes a big difference to Atlético, but a lot depends on how Simeone decides to play.

Club Atletico de Madrid v RCD Mallorca - La Liga Photo by Berengui/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

It’s official, as you know.

Atlético Madrid signed Luis Suárez from Barcelona, and Álvaro Morata is now a Juventus player. Those two transfers change the outlook of Atlético’s season and could be the difference between a fight for fourth place and a tilt at titles domestically and abroad. Atlético still have holes to fill, but Suárez’s signing is exciting.

The two players had similar expected goals numbers last season. Morata’s 13.1 xG was shaded by Suárez’s 13.9. The Uruguayan scored 16 goals, however, with eight assists. Morata managed 12 goals and two assists. Obviously, playing in Barcelona’s possession-based side is easier than playing in Diego Simeone’s defensive 4-4-2. Everything hinges on what Suárez has left in the tank, how Simeone decides to play this year, and whether or not he can strike up a partnership with Koke and the creative players in the side.

It doesn’t solve all of Atlético’s problems, but it certainly adds a sheen to an otherwise dull transfer window so far.

Striker

Atlético have signed one of the best strikers in the world over the course of the last decade.

Suárez passed his medical in Madrid on Friday. Concerns over his knee linger and question marks over how much he has left in the tank too, but Simeone’s 4-4-2 could be ideal for Suárez. He won’t be asked to press and will have to defend in smaller spaces than he did at Barcelona.

Los colchoneros are not done either, as Goal’s Rubén Uría reported Friday that Atlético have made one last bid to sign Edinson Cavani. The pair have played together for Uruguay for the last 12 years. Born within three weeks of each other, Cavani and Suárez are the country’s most devastating strikers and have combined for 109 goals under Oscar Tabarez. Diego Costa remains at the club, but it might not be for long as Atlético look to offload the player.

But enough of what might be and more about what we know for sure at this moment of time, on the Friday before Atlético’s first game of the season against Granada. Atlético need a back-up for Suárez but as far as the second striker is concerned, Simeone has options.

João Félix, Ángel Correa and Marcos Llorente can all play in the role beside or behind the main striker. They are all wildly different players.

As stated when looking at Atlético’s midfield, Simeone was often torn between playing a defensive midfield or a creative one. Koke often played as a wide midfielder with Yannick Carrasco, Thomas Lemar or Vitolo as a more playmaker on the other side. With Suárez up front, provided he can produce goals, Simeone might not have to sacrifice the side’s defensive integrity by fielding a more creative player.

Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

There will be departures before Oct. 5. There is a backlog of left midfielders with Carrasco, Lemar and Vitolo vying for playing time. Lemar has used up every opportunity afforded to him and has already turned down offers to leave the club this summer. Vitolo could be supplanted by Víctor Mollejo, who is back after a loan spell at Deportivo la Coruña and could be the perfect foil for Suárez given his intense style.

Meanwhile, Ivan Šaponjić played just six minutes last season and needs to prove himself in limited opportunities or else face another season welded to the bench.


Every season for the last half -decade, there have been questions over Atlético’s evolution. Every summer brings fresh hope that Simeone will attack more and the rojiblancos will be able to launch an attack on LaLiga.

Every year, there is disappointment.

In Suárez, Atlético have another reason to dream but a lot will hinge on how Simeone lines up his team. Another defensive midfielder is a must and someone, i.e. Félix, Carrasco or Ángel Correa, will have to take a massive leap forward in a bid to bring silverware to the Wanda Metropolitano.

Granada are first up on Sunday and we might get a feel for how Simeone plans to evolve this season. It won’t be until the window closes and the squad is set in stone that we will see what their new superstar signing has left in the tank, and in which players Cholo’s faith lies.