El Centrocampista

CHANGING OF THE GUARD – Atlético finally bring in quality to replace departed stars

By Jamie Milligan

It’s come too late for Quique Sanchez Flores but it appears the penny has finally dropped for the board at Atlético Madrid.

After spending the past two seasons stripping the Vicente Calderon side of its best talent and replacing them with inferior players, the directors are finally beginning to realise that if they want success then they must replace quality with quality.

Over the past two seasons talented first team players like Simao Sarbosa and Jose Manuel Jurado have been flogged and replaced with sub standard players like Fran Merida and Juan Fran.

Sanchez Flores, who was replaced by Gregorio Manzano at the end of the season, was the main victim of this short-sightedness at the top of Los Rojiblancos.

This has been alluded to by Sky Sports pundit and Spanish football expert, Guillem Balague.

Atletí will miss Forlán and Aguero.

In a recent article, Balague is quoted as saying of Atletico: “They don’t know where they are going, are not challenging the top four and don’t have any cup competitions to fight for – they’re in disarray.

Every year their squad gets worse and worse, because departing players are replaced with players of lesser talent.”

‘Quique’, in my opinion, worked wonders at Atlético, winning the UEFA Europa League and taking them to the Copa Del Rey Final.

Their league form was disappointing but that has to be expected considering Sanchez Flores continually had his side weakened by interfering club officials.

However, the tide has now turned and new man Manzano has been given proper backing.

Despite the much publicised sales of star players David De Gea and Kun Aguero, the Atlético board have splashed out and brought in the likes of Arda Turan, a talented Turkish winger from Galatasaray, Adrian Lopez, Spain’s Under-21’s goal-scoring hero from Deportivo and most significantly, Colombian hit-man Falcao, from Porto.

Falcao was the most lethal striker in Europe last season, terrorising both Portuguese defences as well as inspiring Porto’s successful Europa League charge with an incredible 17 strikes in 14 matches.

The goal-scorer had been linked with the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham so it is a major coup for a club like Atlético to have won the race for his signature.

40 million Euros looks like a huge amount of money- and it is- but if Falcao can carry on from where he left off last season then he will be worth his weight in gold.

Despite the doomsday scenario occurring- the sales of De Gea and Aguero- for the first time in a long time, Atlético have invested money in some very talented players.

Fans of the club can now look on the new season with genuine optimism.

Perhaps, though it is Sanchez Flores and not Manzano who should be leading Los Colchoneros into this exciting new dawn.

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