This week started with the news that Liverpool had completed the signing of in-demand Monaco midfielder Fabinho, and it has concluded with a report from L’Equipe stating Atletico Madrid are ‘very close’ to signing Djibril Sidibe from the French club.
It is the second successive summer in which the Ligue 1 club’s scintillating side who reached the Champions League last four only twelve months ago, has been picked apart and dismantled by leading European clubs.
Last year, Manchester City signed left-back Benjamin Mendy and Portuguese playmaker Bernardo Silva. Midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko joined Chelsea, backup striker Valere Germain moved to Marseille while the biggest star of all, Kylian Mbappe, switched to Paris Saint-Germain who reclaimed their league title this season.
Thomas Lemar, Radamel Falcao, and Joao Moutinho all remain but have been linked with moves elsewhere. In many ways, Atletico Madrid’s model which has brought them such fantastic success on the European stage, over the course of the last decade, stands in total contrast.
While Monaco prides themselves on an extensive scouting system and selling players at huge profits, Atletico are the model of stability and sustainability. They have maintained the core of their squad through all their successes in Europe, which now includes two Champions League finals, three Europa League titles and two European Super cups in the past eight seasons.
Atletico are rebuilding
Going into this summer they are short in terms of bodies. Fringe players Nicolas Gaitan, Yannick Carrasco, Augusto Fernandez, Luciano Vietto and Miguel Angel Moya all had their exits sanctioned in winter, while iconic striker Fernando Torres is leaving at the end of his contract.
Atleti’s first-team squad entered the summer with just 16 outfield players and they were acutely aware they needed to add depth. The first arrival was Villarreal midfielder Rodri, whose potential has been recognised at international level as he earned his first cap with Spain in March.
Sidibe looks set to be the second arrival, with Los Rojiblancos securing a deal for a defender who had been monitored by several top European clubs, including Manchester United. The defender is part of France’s 23-man squad for this summer’s World Cup, with all parties confident of concluding a deal before then according to Friday’s L’Equipe.
The 25-year-old made his Ligue 1 debut with Troyes as a 17-year-old and has gone on to play for Lille before joining Monaco two seasons ago. Predominantly a right-back, he is also comfortable playing on the opposite side of a back four and has starred over the past number of campaigns. He provides energy down the flank and his crossing ability and movement are highly valued. Viewed as a ‘complete’ full-back, he provides both balance and width.
Atletico may be happy at their Europa League triumph but they will seek to launch a sustained assault on next year’s La Liga and Champions League prizes. Diego Costa and Vitolo have now settled in, Antoine Griezmann could well stay and they are building a squad capable of challenging on all fronts.
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