Atlético Madrid are in need this summer, with several new players required to compete both in Europe and domestically.
Diego Simeone and his Atlético side’s LaLiga title defense petered out before the winter break this season. Injuries, departures and poor form all combined at various times, and to varying degrees, in what was one of the worst years during Cholo’s reign as manager.
“When you win something important, you always lose something the next year,” Andrea Berta, the club’s sporting director, said this week at an award ceremony in Italy. “Maybe it’s on an emotional level. You can’t always win and now we need to start again.
“Atlético were never used to winning, and has built something important with Simeone.”
Atlético sold Kieran Trippier in the January transfer market and his replacement, Daniel Wass, was injured during his first minutes for his new club. The Dane has not taken the field since despite being healthy for a number of weeks.
Šime Vrsaljko deputised in his stead, but Marcos Llorente was frequently played in that position and Rodrigo de Paul was also played out of position during the season. This led to a sense of tactical confusion and some inexplicable results, like defeat to relegated Levante (twice) and away to also-relegated Alavés. Atlético also lost to Mallorca (twice) and failed to beat Granada in two meetings.
Reinildo Mandava arrived in the January transfer market and improved the defense. But this team needs a number of players to add competition in specific positions, and Berta was coy when asked how he would go about this summer’s transfer business.
“The years of the big signings are finished,” he said. “For us, the most important thing is to continue with this squad, which is full of valuable players, players who have bright futures. We have to see what the market brings.”
Atlético know they will lose Hector Herrera, Luis Suárez and likely Vrsaljko at the end of the season, while Antoine Griezmann could still return to FC Barcelona. At the very least, these players will have to be replaced through new signings.
The last games of the 2021/22 season take place on Sunday night, with Atlético traveling to face Real Sociedad. Champions League football has already been wrapped up for another season, but the intrigue regarding next year’s squad is only beginning.