Diego Simeone did a wonderful job last season guiding Atletico Madrid to the La Liga title for the first time since 1996, and then to the Champions League Final in Lisbon — which they ultimately lost to Real Madrid. Next season was always going to be difficult, having to try and maintain that level and to repeat, what many people see, as the miraculous job that Simeone did.
Well, that job looks like it will get a whole lot tougher before this summer is out. The fact that Atletico shot to prominence and received the acclaim that they did was fantastic for the club, and it’s fans. But the bad news is that many of those same players who elevated the club to those heights last season, are now being targeted by other clubs.
Firstly, star striker Diego Costa seems certain to be signing for Chelsea in the near future. How will Simeone replace the 27 goals that Costa scored last season? Only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi scored more. Another attacker, David Villa, is also departing after signing to play in the MLS for new franchise, New York City FC (after a brief interim spell in Australia before NYCFC officially begins in MLS in 2015).
One of the star players for Simeone last season was Spanish midfielder, Koke. Barcelona are in the process of rebuilding their team this summer and they are looking to offload Cesc Fabregas in order to raise some of the money necessary for a raid on Atletico for Koke. Atletico are reluctant to sell, as you would expect, but often, Barcelona and Real Madrid get their man in the end when it comes to the Spanish League.
Another player Barcelona have an interest in is winger Arda Turan, as the Turkish international could be yet another player who leaves the club this summer. Goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, could be yet another player who does not return for next season. The Belgian goalkeeper has been on loan at Atletico for three seasons now and has been instrumental in the clubs success. So much so, that Chelsea are now contemplating playing him as their No. 1 next year, instead of another season on loan at Atletico.
Experienced midfielder Tiago looks likely to move on as a free agent and it is looking more like he is headed to Chelsea along with Costa. Although, two Atletico players may not be enough for Chelsea as left-back Filipe Luis looks like he could make it a trio of Atletico players to move to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are on the lookout for a left-back and Luis reportedly meets their requirements.
Over the course of this summer, the Atletico team which was so admired last season, looks as though it may well be completely torn apart. With success, comes a price, as they say, and that clearly seems to be ringing true for Simeone and Atletico. Whichever exits do actually come to fruition, it will leave Simeone with a lot of money to spend, of course, but more than that, a lot of rebuilding too.