How Atletico Madrid could have lined-up by NOT spending £113m on Joao Felix and buying Bellerin, Aguero and Lacazette – The Sun
ATLETICO MADRID smashed their transfer record last summer to complete a £113MILLION deal for Joao Felix.
The 20-year-old winger has been touted as the "next Cristiano Ronaldo" and is rated as one of the best teenagers in world football.
Manager Diego Simeone had lost a number of players, so they were already going to look completely different this season.
As well as the departure of star man Antoine Griezmann, Atletico lost captain Diego Godin and fellow defensive stalwarts Filipe Luis and Juanfran too.
Midfielder Rodri was confirmed as a Manchester City player after Pep Guardiola paid his £62.8m release clause, while Bayern Munich spent £72m for Lucas Hernandez in January 2019.
Atletico had cash to burn and proved they were willing to spend it after accepting Benfica's terms for Felix.
Here's a potential XI of players that Atletico Madrid might have fielded in an alternate universe where they didn't just splash a fortune on Felix.
GK: Jan Oblak
No change between the sticks.
After poor seasons from David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois, Slovenian Oblak stands alone as the best goalkeeper in the world.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Alisson Becker are certainly challenging in that top five, but none come close to the Atleti man right now.
RB: Hector Bellerin
The Arsenal man was linked with Atletico Madrid in the summer, with reports claiming that Simeone would offer Vitolo in return.
Bellerin, 25, returned from a serious knee injury, and Simeone needed a new right-back to replace Juanfran.
The Spaniard would've injected his pace into Atletico and would be confident about improving him as a defender.
Sime Vrsaljko may play after returning from a loan spell at Inter Milan.
Losing Diego Godin, the heart and soul of the club for almost a decade, will hurt a lot.
The Uruguayan set the tone for the defensive, hard-working style that Simeone loved – and popped up with crucial goals as well.
They have already found their replacement, however – Brazilian Felipe signed from Porto for £18m.
He may be already 31, but Felipe is a physical, experienced presence who rarely makes mistakes.
Former Man City defender Stefan Savic will also complete for a place.
CB: Jose Gimenez
You can tell Gimenez has spent his formative years playing alongside Godin at club and international level.
The 25-year-old is not quite as dominant as his former partner – yet – but is showing all the signs of developing into one of the best centre-backs in the world.
A no-nonsense defender who rarely makes an error, he may be available this summer.
LB: Ryan Bertrand
Another left-field choice, the Southampton man was the surprise name linked with a move to the Wanda Metropolitano last year.
After losing Filipe Luis, Atleti had been linked with Chelsea's Marcos Alonso.
But after it was made clear their transfer ban would be upheld this summer, the Blues decided they were not going to lose the Spaniard.
Bertrand, 30, isn't the most exciting left-back around but he is a reliable defender and reasonable crosser of the ball.
For the sake of this formation we've started Koke on the right of a midfield four, but Simeone plays him everywhere.
The versatile midfielder, 28, is one of the world's best capable of performing a variety of roles and doing all sorts of things.
He has no real weaknesses in his game and is the creative hub of the side.
No way he doesn't start when fit.
CM: Marcos Llorente
Atletico knew Man City were interested in Rodri and so moved to take the under-utilised Llorente from rivals Real Madrid.
Rodri was a big loss for Simeone, but 25-year-old Llorente is a more than capable replacement.
Despite struggling to get into the Los Blancos side last season, the Spaniard is classy on the ball and an excellent passer.
He lacks athleticism – which meant he was a poor fit next to the similarly leggy Toni Kroos and Luka Modric – but with Thomas Partey next to him to do the running that weakness will be covered.
CM: Thomas Partey
Every team in the world would like a player like Partey, who could be moving to Arsenal this summer.
The 27-year-old Ghanaian's only weakness is that he can sometimes over-commit and be rash in tackles, leading to silly fouls and trouble with the referee.
But he is an excellent central midfielder in the N'Golo Kante mold – capable of covering every blade of grass, a great reader of the game and more than competent on the ball.
He also pops up with the odd goal.
LM: Saul Niguez
Like Koke, Saul is a jack of all trades who can play on the left, right and through the middle.
He is a more physical presence than his great friend and the 25-year-old is one of the most complete midfielders in world football.
He has no weaknesses, great on the ball, with an eye for goal and not afraid of a big challenge – he even started half a dozen games at left-back last season.
Saul has been described as the 'future' of the Spanish national team and it's not hard to see why.
ST: Alexandre Lacazette
The Frenchman arrived in England with the reputation of just being a goalscorer after scoring 91 in his previous three seasons at Lyon.
While the 29-year-old has not got close to those totals for Arsenal – scoring 17 in his first season and 19 last term – he's proven himself to be so much more.
Lacazette is one of the best link men in world football, using movement to find space to cause defences problems and pick passes.
Ask any Arsenal fan, and the man himself, why Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was able to score 31 goals in all competitions last season – it was because of Lacazette.
The pair formed an unbelievable partnership, with Lacazette not grabbing as many goals but outperforming his mate, adding 11 assists, eight of those in the Premier League.
ST: Sergio Aguero
This would be a dream for Ateltico fans and a nightmare for Man City fans.
The Argentine is already City's all-time top scorer, and at 32 is showing no signs of slowing down just yet.
Pep Guardiola has rounded his game to make him much more than the fox in the box he was when he first arrived.
Last season, Kun scored 30 in all competitions and had 10 assists, as City trotted out arguably the best attack in world football.
The Champions League is still missing but City would be fools to let Aguero go.
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