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Sunday June 9 2019
Atletico Madrid's exciting new dawn

Diego Simeone faces his biggest challenge yet as Atletico Madrid boss as he oversees a squad overhaul this summer, as David Whitworth analyses. 

A mass exodus is on the horizon for Atlético Madrid as the club prime themselves for a new dawn this summer. After year-on-year of unprecedented success for the club, Coach Diego Simeone and his band of streetfighters are aware a whole raft of changes are imminent, representing the end of a golden era.

Since the Argentinian took over in December 2011, he and his talented group of players have presided over a record trophy haul - winning two European Supercups, two Europa Leagues, one La Liga title, one Copa del Rey and a Spanish Supercopa - not to mention two runners-up medals from the 2014 and 2016 Champions League finals. Atletico, financial underdogs against the might of Barcelona and Real Madrid, have made a habit of overturning the odds under Simeone. If it becomes a question of profit or loss, Atletico could use a football equivalent of the betting calculator over on this page.

All good things must come to an end and the winds of change are in full force at the Wanda Metropolitano. The likes of the stalwarts of Atletico’s defensive backbone - Juanfran, Diego Godín and Filipe Luis - will all move on to pastures new. The epitome of the spirit of Simeone’s blueprint, they have defended the red-and-white shirt with great distinction and fully bought into the Argentine’s aggressive philosophy and will to win.

The trio all arrived to the fabled Vicente Calderon between 2010 and 2011 and together they improved, matured and fused as a successful band of brothers as Simeone squeezed every last drop from his defensive warrior generals. A sore miss they will be indeed.

So too will star man Antoine Griezmann, with the Frenchman confirming through social media last month his impending departure after five years with Atlético, citing a fresh challenge after scoring 94 goals in 180 appearances.

Rumours are swirling with further departures with the talented duo of current Spanish and Ghanaian internationals midfielders Rodri and Thomas Partley potentially exiting the club. Both of whom made a significant contribution last season and subsequently have attracted interest from the Premier League. The ramifications of many key departures at the same time will naturally have a huge impact as Atlético arrive at a defining crossroads in their history.

As much as Simeone has proven himself to be a fantastic manager, this summer represents arguably the greatest challenge of his eight-year tenure in performing major surgery to ensure further successes. His board must back him too, armed with a substantial transfer treasure chest due to impending player departures. 

But with the trophy successes of recent years and the financial muscle from their state-of-the-art stadium, the club has solid foundations on which to potentially create their next golden generation. The manager is fundamental to this and in February, Atlético extended his contract through to 2022. A day chosen purposely, being it was Valentines Day, and 14 was his squad number in his Atlético playing days.

“A future with illusion and many challenges await us until 2022,” said Simeone upon his renewal. “I know if the four legs of the table continue strong and firm as we have been in the recent past, we are going to continue in the same line of success together as supporters, players, directors and manager.”

Recently, the club’s president Enrique Cerezo gave his personal backing and spoke to Onda Cero radio, stating: “He is our standard bearer. There is a perfect relationship. He is going to be with Atlético for many years having given us what no other manager has: eight titles, stability...he is Atlético thorough and through, is comfortable and the supporters love him. If only he could be our Alex Ferguson of Atlético, we would be delighted.”

The Argentine has a lot to live up to in continuing their success, but together with a close-knit board and that strong table, gives Atlético Madrid a typical fighting chance of delivering success in Atletico’s new dawn.

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