Diego Simeone reportedly leaving Atlético Madrid in the summer - which Premier League team could he manage?
The Argentinian has been at Atlético since 2011, but reports suggest his time could be coming to an end.
It just feels right to do it now, doesn’t it? Diego Pablo Simeone has been at Atlético for over a decade and things finally seem as though they are at a point where telling the cycle to stop would not be an earth-shattering occasion. Simeone and Atlético are now synonymous with one another, but things have not looked up for a while and it appears that what Simeone has created has become so powerful that he cannot move it anymore.
Cholo built his team on grit, solidity and fear, as well having a very talented group of players. The high point arguably came in 2013, when, with David Villa and Diego Costa in front of Tiago, Gabi, Koke and Raúl García, with Miranda, Juanfran, Godín and Felipe Luis protecting Courtois, Simeone conquered the league at Camp Nou and took Real Madrid to extra-time and a famous last-minute equaliser in the Champions League final.
Simeone and the ‘new’ Atlético
But, as always, football moves on, and Simeone, despite having another 9 years since that game in Lisbon and another league title under his belt, has always been fighting the demons he has created. The club moved into a new stadium from the old and dilapidated Vicente Calderón, opening up the brand new Metropolitano in 2017, a 68,000 seated bowl with perfect viewing angles from all sides, incredible light shows before every match and a huge area around the ground that allowed for various food companies to place stalls and kiosks for tourists that wanted to experience the new Atleti. The team also got a new badge, redesigned to help with digital promotion and moving away from the traditional, sharp style that had existed since the late 1940s.
And what about their shiny, new team to go with it? Well, that’s the problem. Simeone built his side in the image of the Calderón: the paint had fallen off just about every corner of the concrete, the main stand ran up and over a motorway, the seats were incredibly uncomfortable and the toilets didn’t have, well, anything. But it was home. And it represented perfectly the spirit that the side showed every day to build themselves up along with the fans, fighting for every point in the league, boxing through every knockout round of the Champions League: they made it to the final again in 2016.
Anyway, the new stadium needed a new team and one that was built in the image of the Calderón wasn’t going to fit so comfortably in the soon renamed Wanda Metropolitano (so-called after a Chinese company bought the naming rights in 2018. See where I’m going with this?).
João’s departure is a sign
João Félix is the perfect example of the evolution of the club. A player bought by and for the ’new’ Atlético, and one who has all the talented deserving of a magnificent stadium. But where does he fit into this side that wants to press hard, that wants to be comfortable defending and playing off the ball, that wants to take advantage of set-pieces and fight until the end? I’m not saying João can’t do that, but his hastily arranged exit from Atlético is about as predictable as whether or not Neymar is going to play football over his sister’s birthday weekend this year.
Simeone’s departure looks a certainty - where would he go?
And now, it looks like Simeone’s exit is becoming more and more certain as the days go by. He built Atlético up to become something that it once strived to be, but in doing so the idea of the club changed, and ultimately it has swallowed him up, ready to take on a new, shiny manager for its new, shiny stadium with its new, shiny players: Cholo doesn’t fit into that. He’s tried to hang on to the club, to give João a chance, to change his style, but every time he has bent one way or the other, the same question has always been asked: when will he revert to type?
Maybe the Premier League will come calling. For years now, the names of Arsenal and Manchester United had been sounded out: two big clubs that traditionally had long-serving managers, unlike the hop-on-hop-off bus that stops outside Stamford Bridge. But those two vacancies look to have been filled by - again - shiny, new managers. Simeone has always had an affinity with Italy, due to his time there as a player, so perhaps that’s where we will see him next. Only time will tell. For now, however, if this does turn out to be a goodbye lap from Simeone, we can all say that it’s been a fun ride.
LaLiga Santander 2022/2023
|5Atlético de Madrid||27||8||3||5|
|Almería - Atlético de Madrid||S-15/01 10:15|
|Atlético de Madrid - Real Valladolid||S-21/01 12:30|
|Osasuna - Atlético de Madrid||S-29/01 12:00|
*Data updated to date Jan 10th, 2023
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