Well, let the speculation resume!
Diego Simeone, aware of the balance and playing time issues that plagued Atlético’s 2021/22 season, is planning for the new campaign with four forwards. Medina reports the coach has already deemed João Félix and Antoine Griezmann as “untouchable” — that duo is expected to begin the 2022/23 season as Atleti’s starting striker pair. Griezmann, in particular, is “obsessed” with putting a disappointing 2021/22 season behind him.
The club also has little appetite to sell Matheus Cunha, who was one of the big surprises last year. The Brazilian is expected to receive the coveted number-nine shirt as part of an expanded role.
Thus, Ángel Correa and the recently-returned Álvaro Morata are the most likely players to leave from this quintet. Marca believes Morata will be the one who eventually makes way, despite the player’s professed excitement about playing for Atlético again.
Italian media continues to report that Juventus coach Max Allegri wants the 29-year-old in his team again next season, and Atlético could send him back to the Bianconeri on a permanent transfer — or at least loan him back to Turin for a third consecutive season, to get his wages off the books.
(Further relief is expected to arrive when Las Palmas announce Vitolo’s arrival on loan and a wage-sharing agreement with Atlético next week.)
Correa’s potential exit has been a topic of discussion for most of the summer, and Atleti would let the Argentina forward leave if a “competitive offer” came in for him. Correa signed a contract extension to 2026 midway through last season, but the 27-year-old was “pissed off” as his playing time declined after a great start to the year. Apparently, his frustration came to a head during the Rojiblancos’ Champions League quarterfinal against Manchester City — he started both games on the bench and played 52 minutes across the two legs against the eventual English champions.
I remain convinced Atlético’s public posture over Morata is very different from its private stance. Though he could be a helpful supporting forward if he stayed, the Spain starter is no more than Atleti’s fourth forward (if not the fifth-choice option). A substantial cut to his playing time would be unwelcome with a World Cup in Qatar four months away, and Atleti have to get his salary off the books with no suitable offers arriving for Mario Hermoso, Thomas Lemar, or Renan Lodi.
Therefore, Morata seems the easy choice to leave again, especially as Correa and Cunha demonstrated they deserve much larger opportunities.
Which forward should Atlético NOT keep for the coming season?
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