The European transfer window slammed shut Tuesday and in terms of the business done this summer, Atletico Madrid left its La Liga competition in the dust. Unlike Barcelona, Atleti weren’t encumbered by any kind of UEFA imposed sanctions. Unlike Real Madrid, Los Colchoneros avoided getting dragged into any kind of protracted transfer drama.
Instead, Diego Simeone got his transfer dealings done early and sensibly. As is customary with Atletico, several key players left – Arda Turan to Barcelona, Mario Mandzukic to Juventus – but somehow those losses don’t seem as staggering as in past seasons.
In fact Jackson Martinez, signed from Porto earlier in the window, looks to be an upgrade to Mandzukic. And while it may take time to see how well Yannick Ferreira Carrasco does in terms of filling Turan’s boots, the Belgian who was signed from Monaco in July, is younger, pacier and more mobile.
One of Atleti’s biggest coups on the market was in holding onto last season’s leading scorer, Antoine Griezmann. The French striker attracted interest from abroad earlier in the summer, notable from Chelsea. But he has pledged his future to the Vicente Calderon for the time being and Atleti fans will be salivating at the thought of the potential strike partnership he could form with Martinez.
In defense, Atleti was bolstered by the return of Filipe Luis who called time on his ill-fated spell with Chelsea after just one season. Atleti also secured the services of former Manchester City defender Stefan Savic. The Montenegro man, who was a standout central defender in his three seasons with Fiorentina, joined Atleti earlier this summer on a five-year deal.
With Real Madrid still smarting from its humiliating failed attempt to lure David De Gea from Manchester United, and Barcelona unable to blood any of its new signings until January, Atleti has emerged from the transfer window in a strong position.
With two wins in two matches, Simeone’s team is off to a flying start and has the depth to mount another strong campaign in Spain and Europe. But Atleti will face its first big challenge of the season the week after the international break when it welcomes Barcelona to the Calderon.