Diego Simeone, who made his name playing for Inter Milan and Lazio in Italy, is reportedly looking for summer reinforcement in Serie A. Italian sources confirm that the Argentine, who is arguably one of the best coaches in the world right now, is looking at a number of players to bring in from his former club and league.
Gone are the days when Atletico Madrid was relying on other club rejects, cheap deals, loanees and academy products to build their squad. Although they still are not capable of competing with the financial muscle of Barcelona and Real Madrid, last summer they proved with their numerous multi-million euro signings like Carrasco, Jackson Martinez, Luciano Vietto, Allesio Cerci and Mattias Kranevitter that they too are not lagging behind.
Ironically however most of Atletico’s big name signings have mostly failed, with the exception of Belgian Yannick Ferreira Carrasco. Torres who was brought on a free loan from Milan continued to start ahead of 20 million euro Luciano Vietto and forced 30 million euro Jackson Martinez out of the club. But like all great things, great transfer policies take time to unfold. Lets take a look at what interests Atletico in the summer in Italy.
Two Croatians from Zagreb
Having previously worked with Mario Mandzukic who is now with Juventus, Simeone is now serious about bringing in his countryman Marcelo Brozovic who had been making headlines in Italy with his performances in a nerazzuri shirt. Brozovic is arguably the most important midfielder in Simeone’s old team having made the switch from Dinamo Zagreb.
Brozovic’s agent has dropped numerous hints that his client wants to move out of Inter after having failed to secure a Champions League berth, and Sky Italia reports that Atletico Madrid general manager Manuel Angel Gil and director of sport Piero Ausilio had met discussing a possible transfer (via Football Italia). Amidst interest from Arsenal and other Premier League clubs, it is no secret that Inter wants to cash in on the Croatian like they did with his predecessor Matteo Kovacic.
Brozovic is only one of the many Croatians setting Serie A ablaze with his performances. Sassuolo right back Sime Vrsaljko, who is also a product of the Dinamo Zagreb academy has been linked with a move to various Serie A clubs, but now Fabrizio Romano reports that Atletico also have shown interest in him (via Calciomercato). According to reports, the neroverdi already have an agreement in place with Napoli who are willing to pay the asking price of 15 million euros for the fullback. Juventus had backed out of negotiations for the 1992 born defender.
Kicking the Partenopei Nest
It wasn’t enough that Atletico are trying to snatch away Vrsajlko away from right under Napoli’s noses, they had tried to poach Lorenzo Insigne with a 30 million euro offer two weeks ago, according to Gazzetta dello Sport (via Football Italia). Thankfully for Napoli fans, the offer was promptly turned down since Napoli have no intention of turning down a player who’s considered to be a fan favourite although they’ve had a love-hate relationship with him.
The soon to be turning 25 year old winger has enjoyed what was the best season of his career under Maurizio Sarri, scoring 11 goals and 10 assists. Since then, however, Atletico have turned their attention to Benfica’s Nico Gaitan and it is highly unlikely that they will come back for Insigne.
While Atletico were in Milan trying to take care of transfers as well as the all important Champions League final at the San Siro, Atalanta’s Papu Gomez who has previously played under Diego Simeone in Catania, expressed his desire to play under Simeone again. What seems to be so far fetched and wishful thinking might not be so implausible given Simeone’s talent of getting 120% out of players who are not otherwise so well known in the world of football.
Atletico stars Diego Costa, Miranda, Godin, Felipe Luis and club captain Gabi made the transition from relative unknowns to household names in world football thanks to Simeone. Papu Gomez of Atalanta has had a decent season and has been linked with a move abroad. In an interview to Tuttomercatoweb, he expressed his desire to play under Simeone –
“Before going to Metalist, I was close to Atletico Madrid. It’s a very important club, but I am happy in Italy and would need a really big call to leave here.”