Atlético: Simeone's attacking flops - will Joao Félix buck the trend?
Following the confirmation of the Portuguese striker's move to Los Rojiblancos, we examine a trend of attackers struggling at the club in recent years.
Joao Félix is Atlético Madrid's new record signing having joined from Benfica for a whopping €126million, meaning the pressure is on for him to succeed and the omens aren't great.
A fine talent in his own right, Joao Félix scored 15 goals and set up another seven in 26 Primeira Liga games last season, while also impressing with his technical ability and creativity.
But at just 19 years of age, it's a huge price tag to live up to and Atlético's record of signing creative players and forwards in recent years has been verging on woeful.
While Antoine Griezmann has proven a huge success, few others since he joined can be considered as such, while the Frenchman is expected to leave.
With Joao Félix brought in as his replacement, we look back on the other players brought to add a bit of craft since Griezmann signed.
| Agreement with @slbenfica_en over the transfer of @JoaoFelix70.— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) July 3, 2019
The Portuguese forward has signed a seven-year contract with our club
Welcome to the Atleti Family!
https://t.co/VtKnmyhkM1#AúpaAtleti #PureTalent #WelcomeJoãoFélix pic.twitter.com/7H5U7bmatE
Alessio Cerci - €15m
Technically gifted and clearly talented, Cerci secured a move to Atletico after scoring 13 Serie A goals and setting up 11 for Torino the previous season. But things started badly in LaLiga, as he was overweight when signing and managed just a smattering of appearances before being loaned out to AC Milan. His career has never really recovered.
Angel Correa - €8m
A heart problem delayed Correa's initial introduction, but he showed real promise once he was fully integrated into the squad. Although clearly a useful squad player, it is not so farfetched to suggest the 24-year-old is yet to live up to those early expectations, as he only scored three times in 36 league games last term. If played a little further forward, he might just thrive.
Yannick Carrasco - €25m
An up-and-down first season was followed by a hugely promising second campaign at Atleti for Carrasco. The Belgian scored 10 in LaLiga and his skillset appeared to make him the perfect winger for Simeone's system, which required athleticism, enterprise and proactivity. But he partially regressed in 2017-18 and was subsequently deemed dispensable, joining China's Dalian Yifang.
Luciano Vietto - €20m
Although predominantly an out-and-out striker, Vietto showed himself to be well-rounded during his solitary season at Villarreal, and the fact he had worked with Simeone at Racing Club meant it was surely a fool-proof transfer. However, he scored just once in 25 games, converting three per cent of his shots and was little better in loan spells at Sevilla, Valencia and Fulham, despite starting well at the former. He has since been sold to Sporting CP for about €7.5m.
Jackson Martinez - €37m
Granted, Martinez was not signed to offer any kind of creativity, but he highlights the fact Simeone has also struggled to integrate many strikers. Martinez arrived following three fine seasons at Porto, but he scored just twice before being offloaded to China, where injuries restricted him badly. He spent 2018-19 back in Portugal with Portimonense attempting to rebuild his career, though Guangzhou Evergrande still own him.
Nico Gaitan - €25m
Hailed as a fine addition due to his ability to play on either flank, Gaitan joined Atletico with a big reputation. While he was by no means a humiliating failure, he made very little impact on the first-team, making just 12 LaLiga starts in about 18 months. Another who was sold to the Chinese Super League, he is now in MLS with Chicago Fire.
Kevin Gameiro - €32m
A classic Monchi signing at Sevilla, Gameiro impressed as a partner to Carlos Bacca and as a lone frontman. However, at Atletico Simeone often deployed the Frenchman as more of a winger and that impacted on his effectiveness in front of goal, scoring 27 in 82 games. His conversion rate (24.1 per cent) is the second best of Atletico players with a minimum of five goals under Simeone, however, suggesting he might have netted more if played through the middle regularly.
Vitolo - €36m
Another signed from Sevilla, the purchase of Vitolo was a massive ordeal given the legal dispute it spawned, with his former club adamant he had verbally agreed to a new contract including a bigger release clause. As it happened, Atletico probably wish they hadn't bothered. He has scored four goals and set up another five in 51 games, starting only 20. He is tipped to leave this year.
Gelson Martins - €22m
Gelson joined having rescinded his Sporting contract after incidents of violence with the club's fans, though Atletico did eventually have to cough up some money. He made one LaLiga start before being loaned to Monaco in January, where he will remain on a permanent basis. He attempted more dribbles (28) than the number of shots (11) and chances created (six) combined.
Thomas Lemar - €70m
A star of the Monaco side that won the 2016-17 Ligue 1 campaign and reached the Champions League semi-finals the same season, Lemar was seen a big coup for Atletico. Three goals and as many assists was all he had to show for his debut LaLiga season, however, a poor amount given his fee. Used to being deployed in a freer role, he still seems to be adapting to life with Simeone.
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