Atletico Season Preview: Holding onto Griezmann Key

Aug 05, 2016 by Alex Baker

While Atletico Madrid has just completed the successful signing of Kevin Gameiro the biggest the coup the Madrid outfit can accomplish this summer will be to keep hold of Antoine Griezmann. The France forward was the best player at Euro 2016 and could easily be the hottest property on the market if he were to become even slightly available.

The Frenchman scored 32 goals in all competitions for Atleti last season and helped propel them to a second Champions League final in three seasons. Earlier this month it was revealed that Griezmann had rejected an offer from Paris Saint-Germain with Manchester United and Arsenal also rumored to have expressed interest.

While Griezmann has been outstanding for Atleti, the club has lacked a truly reliable center forward ever since Diego Costa left for Chelsea. Although rumors persist about the Brazilian returning to the Vicente Calderon, Gameiro, who scored 29 goals for Sevilla last season, should be able to relieve the goal-scoring burden on Griezmann and add another dimension to Atleti’s attack.

Manager Diego Simeone has managed to maintain the core of the team that won La Liga two seasons ago with the defensive stalwarts of Diego Godin, Filipe Luis and Juanfran still in place. They’ve all got a few more miles on them but with the likes of Jose’ Gimenez and Stefan Savic in the mix, Atletico’s defense looks an impenetrable as ever.

Simeone also still has a formidable roster of midfield players at his disposal including the likes of Tiago, Yannick Carrasco, Gabi, Koke, and Saul Niguez.

In the attack it gets a little thin once you get past Griezmann. Fernando Torres was the only other player to break into double-digit figures last season. But the 32-year-old is no longer a 90-minute player. If Gameiro can put up similar numbers to what he did last season and Simeone can bring in another attacker capable of chipping in 10-12 goals, Atletico would have a real shot at winning everything this season.

After winning La Liga in 2014, they fell just short of repeating last season and again narrowly lost out on winning the club’s first European Cup. The deal to bring Costa back from Chelsea is reportedly off. But Simeone has a knack for pulling strikers out of his hat. With Atleti’s first game set for August 21 against promotion side Alaves and the transfer window open an additional nine days after that, Simeone has time to assess his squad and see what’s available to him.

The club have looked good in preseason, with Diego Godin scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in the International Champions Cup. Atleti open their season with a run of four winnable looking games before a September 21 clash with Barcelona. Starting the season off by taking full points from the first four games could also provide Atleti the momentum they will need to again challenge the Real Madrid hegemony that grips Spain and increasingly, the rest of Europe.

Watch Atletico Madrid in La Liga next season on BeINSports.

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