Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone believes Raul Garcia has been the catalyst for Aritz Aduriz’s goalscoring form ahead of Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
The midfielder’s arrival at San Mames has coincided with the 34-year-old hitting 20 goals in just 24 appearances this season, and the Coach credited his former charge for getting the best out of his new teammate.
“[Garcia] left a great legacy at our club,” he said at a Press conference.
“He made many friends in the dressing room and our fans are grateful to the people like him.
“He deserves what he’s achieved for everything he gave on the pitch and in the dressing room as a man.
“He’ll be welcomed in the best way possible because he deserves such a reception.
“Our idea is to always keep improving and growing. The team are doing well, but the most difficult thing in football is to maintain consistency.
“For this, you can’t just play well as you must also keep a level head, although both of these can only be reaped by what we sow, not by what we say.
“[On Tiago Mendes’ injury], we’ve rotated enough in his position. Koke, Gabi and Saul [Niguez] can all play there.
“[On Garcia being his best team player], I’ve coached a lot of players.
“Raul played in different positions really well, whether it be behind the striker or on the right or left, and always gave us his all.
“He’s also doing that in Bilbao and made Aduriz much more competitive.
“[On Luciano Vietto or Fernando Torres as his No 9], their characteristics are different, but the 90 minutes gives us the option of playing both.
“Our objective is to involve as many players as possible so everyone feels important.
“Thomas [Partey] and Oliver [Torres] have been playing. The only one I’d have liked to give more minutes to is Lucas [Hernandez].
“More internal competition gives a Coach more choice.
“Due to [Athletic’s] characteristics, it’ll be an intense game. The team who reads the game quickest will have the best chance of winning.
“It will be a fast-paced game, with few spaces, and whoever adapts best will be most comfortable.
“I’m always positive and optimistic. Our objective is to improve in all aspects. What matters to me is to look forward.
“We always try to pay attention to important players like [Aritz Aduriz].
“Raul Garcia’s presence has further enhanced his features – aggression, talent, movement …
“They’re arguably one of the best attacking duos around.”