Atletico Madrid look set to continue their summer spending spree by bringing Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez to the Spanish capital. He could join fellow signings, Joao Felix, Mario Hermoso and Kieran Trippier at the club this summer as Diego Simeone masterminds one of the most fascinating transfer windows we have ever seen.
No other club has seen such a turnover of players for such a high cost in the history of football. To date this summer, they have seen almost a complete overhaul of their squad, with 13 players leaving the club, several of whom had been integral to Simeone’s side over the past five seasons.
The biggest name to leave is, of course, Antoine Griezmann who swapped the Spanish capital for Barcelona in a deal worth £108m. Atleti were not happy with the way Barcelona went about their business, waiting for the Frenchman’s buy-out clause to drop on July 1 before officially purchasing him, even though a deal seemed to have been agreed weeks before.
Lucas Hernandez also left the club in a giant deal worth £72m, making him the second most expensive defender of all-time behind Virgil van Dijk, although Harry Maguire looks set to beat that record if he - as expected - goes to Manchester United. The 23-year-old Hernandez’ move to Bayern Munich was huge financially for Atletico Madrid who saw their entire back-line which has served Simone so well, dismantled in a matter of months.
Ageing defenders Diego Godin, Filipe Luis and Juanfran all left the club on free transfers after their contracts expired, which decimated the defence that had led them to two Champions League finals. In fact, of the team that started against Real Madrid in 2016, just four players remain at the club. They are Stefan Savic, Saul, Koke and goalkeeper Jan Oblak; four players who will be key in smoothing this transition period for the club.
Rodri was another big name player to leave, with the holding midfielder departing for Manchester City for £63m, and the sale of Gelson Martins to Monaco brought in another £27m bringing their total incomings to a whopping £280m. They may still raise more money with Angel Correa linked with a €50m move to AC Milan. The wage bill has been dramatically reduced and Atletico Madrid had to act fast to bring in the replacements they wanted.
Simeone has set about rebuilding his side with a summer spending spree that is the envy of most European clubs. They won the race for highly rated teenager João Félix from Benfica, spending £113m to replace the departed Griezmann, the Portuguese forward is by far and away their most expensive transfer to date but elsewhere they have spent wisely to replace those that have left.
Marcos Llorente has come over from Real to Atleti to replace Rodri for £27m which looks like a bargain buy and defensive reinforcements have joined in the form of Mario Hermoso, Kieran Trippier and Felipe. Brazilian youngster Renan Lodi has also joined as a promising left-back and Porto’s Hector Herrera could be one of the signings of the summer, joining on a free transfer.
All of the comings and goings have remarkably left Atleti in profit, to the tune of £60m. Even if they spend some of that money to bring in James Rodriguez, they are still in a great position financially heading into the new season, in their new stadium. Next season will be the ultimate test of Diego Simeone who has been able to build a squad almost from scratch and could change to a more attacking style.
La Liga will be thrilling to watch next season with a new-look Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid in transition and Barcelona spending big. We rarely see a complete squad overhaul but if anyone can make a success of it, it will be the Argentinian genius.