Written by a guest blogger
Despite winning La Liga in thrilling fashion, league champions Atletico Madrid are refusing to rest on the laurels.
Los Colchoneros have recently signed midfielder Rodrigo De Paul from Serie A club Udinese.
Despite the club’s silence on the fee, it’s being reported that the dynamic midfielder is costing the side €35m.
It’s clear the midfielder is quality, having delivered Udinese nine goals and ten assists in just 36 appearances.
But why did Atletico drop such a figure on a player when they already have the likes of Marcos Llorente and Koke?
Powering the Attack
Under Diego Simeone, Atletico Madrid are better known for their defensive ability than their attacking prowess, even with lethal goalscoring threats like former Barcelona centre-forward Luis Suarez and wonderkid Joao Felix.
They scored just 67 goals this year, almost twenty less than Barcelona, and a third of that goal tally was provided by Suarez.
In the last league campaign, De Paul provided his side a dazzling 19 goal contributions, a welcome addition to any team challenging for the title.
He’s no one-season-wonder, either. Over the last three seasons, he’s produced a total of twenty-five goals, with just five penalties.
At Atletico, Suarez will retain penalty duties, which fortunately won’t have a profound impact on De Paul’s total output.
The former Udinese midfielder is old hat at scoring spectacular goals, whether it be in his first season at Udinese or his second against Chievo Verona in 2019.
Look no further than his wonder strike against Genoa in 2019, giving a perfect example of what De Paul can bring to the team.
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Dribbles, Vision, and Line-Breaking Passes
If you’re looking for a versatile and efficient ball-carrier, there’s few better in Serie A.
In the last league campaign, the midfielder attained nearly 8,000 yards of progressive distance, second-best in Serie A and sixth-best in all of Europe’s top five leagues.
He accomplished the same the year before, so there’s confidence he’ll be able to perform at a similar level for his new team.
Progressive distance stats can be somewhat misleading with regard to deep-lying midfielders, so it’s important to note that De Paul’s progressive distance into dangerous areas is among the best in Europe’s top leagues.
De Paul logged just over 120 passes into the final third of the pitch, sixth-best across Europe’s top leagues, narrowly beaten out by Aston Villa superstar Jack Grealish, despite having played fewer games than the Aston Villa talisman.
The year before was even more stunning, with De Paul outdone only by Lionel Messi.
Rodrigo de Paul’s vision is also among Europe’s elite, with crosses, line-breaking passes and insane vision putting him above midfield maestros such as Bruno Fernandes and Luka Modric.
He’s also notched 20 crosses into the 18-yard box, leaving him as the most prolific Serie A central midfielders in this regard.
While De Paul may not have the established brand of someone like Fernandes, he’s given Atletico fans something to look forward to in the upcoming season, as Los Colchoneros look to defend their league title and go deep in the Champions League.