ATLETICO Madrid manager, Diego Simeone has dismissed speculation his side could be set for another run at La Liga, saying his current squad isn’t the finished product he had when they clinched the crown in 2014.
Los Rojiblancos boast a two-point cushion at the summit of La Liga after only three games this season, with his being the only team to have kept a perfect record thus far.
Atleti won their first eight league games of the 2013-14 season when the club earned its 10th top-flight trophy. Simeone told reporters his current crop of stars are still developing together and can’t match the squad of six or so years ago:
“Repeating that perfect start to La Liga is not too important. Because we had players like Raul Garcia, Thiago and Gabi in our team back then and now my players are very young.
“We have youngsters like Thomas Partey, Joao Felix, Thomas Lemar, Renan Lodi, Mario Hermoso, Saul Niguez.
“When we won the league in that 2013/14 season, my players were better and now we are building a team, where each game is a final.”
The club has undergone a major rebuild this summer and welcomed an influx of new players after a batch of longstanding stars were moved on from the Wanda Metropolitano this summer.
It’s paid off thus far, at least, as sportswriter, Andy West highlighted the gap that’s already emerged between them and their biggest rivals, defending champion, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Antoine Griezmann joined Barcelona in a €120 million transfer, while defender, Lucas Hernandez and midfielder, Rodrigo moved to new outfits, Bayern Munich and Manchester City, respectively, for big fees.
In addition, the defence also lost a lot of experience after Diego Godin, Filipe Luis and Juanfran saw their contracts in Madrid expire.
Atletico have since broken their transfer record to sign Joao Felix from Benfica for €120 million. setting a new standard for the usually frugal Spanish outfit, per Squawka:
The Felix expenditure was a particular risk, though one that appears to be paying off for the club already:
Aside from the Portuguese, Atletico are already seeing great results from smaller-profile signings like defenders Renan Lodi and Kieran Trippier, as well as midfielder Marcos Llorente and more.
While the Atletico team of five years ago had the advantage of time to bond, there’s no guarantee Barca or Real are strong enough to overhaul the new-look Rojiblancos.
After waiting almost two decades between Liga titles, Atleti could be on the verge of a second trophy in the space of five years by Simeone’s hand.