Focused on building "the best team we can," Club Atlético de Madrid coach Diego Simeone has pinpointed pace as a pivotal component ahead of the Liga champions' upcoming campaign.
Presiding over a summer of change at the Estadio Vicente Calderón that has seen several key members of last season's title-winning squad depart, the Argentine tactician said both he and the club's backroom staff have been searching hard for suitable replacements.
"Many quick players like Diego Costa [Chelsea FC], Adrián [López, FC Porto], and David Villa [New York City FC] have left, while others who we could be described as 'quick thinking,' such as Diego and José Sosa [both on loan at Atlético last term] have gone too," Simeone explained from his team's pre-season tour of the Americas. "It is exactly those type of players we are looking to replace," the 44-year-old continued.
Added to the Rojiblancos' list of outgoings are full-back Filipe Luis and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois – both of whom formed part of Liga's meanest defence last term and who are also Chelsea bound. Ordinarily, an exodus of such talent would be enough to cause worry among fans of any club, yet Atlético supporters will point to the fact that they have seen their team go on to flourish having previously waved goodbye to talents such as Fernando Torres, Sergio Agüero and Radamel Falcao.
Explaining that "a team is not just the 11 players who play, it's a group of 18 players who form a squad," former Atlético midfielder Simeone went on to add: "We are working with the club as we seek to build the best team we can here."
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Those efforts have thus far produced a new forward line containing Mario Mandžukić – bought from FC Bayern München – and versatile French international attacker Antoine Griezmann, newly arrived from Real Sociedad de Fútbol on a six-year contract. "Griezmann gives us pace in attack, which is what we needed," Simeone said of the second-most expensive signing in the club's history after Falcao. "As a player he'll bring us things which we lacked up until now."
Elsewhere, should Cristian Ansaldi complete his expected move to last term's UEFA Champions League runners-up, the Argentina defender will compete with fellow new arrival Guilherme Siqueira – a treble winner while on loan with SL Benfica last term – for the left-back berth. Slovenian international Jan Oblak and Miguel Ángel Moyá will do likewise for the goalkeeping position having both arrived over the summer.
Despite hinting that further additions may yet be on the cards – "this group is not yet closed, nor the team complete" – Simeone will nonetheless remain the key presence, overseeing a team keen to retain their Liga title while making up for the disappointment of last season's European showpiece defeat at the hands of rivals Real Madrid CF.
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