What a summer it’s already been for Atletico Madrid!

The Rojiblancos have seen Diego Godin, Lucas Hernandez, Luciano Vietto and Gelson Martins leave, with Antoine Griezmann on the verge of joining Barcelona and Juanfran and Filipe Luis at the end of their contracts.

Not to mention Manchester City’s capture of their hugely talented 23-year-old defensive midfielder, Rodri Hernandez.

It’s perhaps his sale, more than any other, that has the potential to hurt Diego Simeone’s side the most.

 

The Argentine will point to having procured reinforcements such as Hector Herrera, Joao Felix and, to cover Rodri’s move, Marcos Llorente.

Whilst it’s true that Llorente is a first-class exponent, he’s not in Rodri’s class, and the latter hasn’t regularly been compared with Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets without good reason.

Both on the international stage and for Atleti in 2018/19, Rodri was a monster. His mixture of physicality, balletic poise and accuracy in the pass made him unplayable at times.

He was the conduit through which much of the team’s good work evolved and trebling his transfer fee in little more than a year will be of no consequence whatsoever to Simeone who, in some respects, is starting over at the Wanda Metropolitano.

The responsibility that Llorente now has on his shoulders is enormous. He’s athletic enough to drive the team forward from his sentry and the youngster does offer great movement and the work ethic that the coach demands.

But he doesn’t carry as much of a physical presence or the tactical intelligence of his contemporary. The latter may come with experience, given he was criminally underused at Real Madrid, whilst an even steelier side needs to come to the fore to compensate for the Rodri loss.

Pep Guardiola has pulled off a real coup in ensuring that the best years of Rodri’s career will be spent in the blue half of Manchester.

Comfortable in possession, even when put under the most extreme pressure, he’s a player who rarely, if ever, seems to hit the panic button.

To that end, he’s the perfect replacement for the aging Fernandinho, and is one of very few players that can improve what City have in situ. All qualities that Simeone saw in abundance and what convinced him to sign the player from Villarreal.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 08: Josep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City attends a Manchester City press conference ahead of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final match against Tottenham Hotspur. At Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on April 08, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

What a bitter blow then, that the cash-rich Premier League top dogs can come in and cherry pick at will.

The glue that held Atleti together at times last season, you can’t put a price on that sort of excellence.

Only the Rojiblancos did do just that, and it’s that decision will hurt them in the forthcoming campaign.

One step forward, two back…

Odds are correct at the time of posting

Join the discussion