Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has confirmed that his contract with the La Liga club was cut by two years last summer, but insists that “nothing has changed.”
The news was revealed this week that, after talks following a second Champions League final defeat in three years, Simeone had agreed with Atletico’s hierarchy for his contract to now end in June 2018, leading to speculation about the future plans of a coach coveted by many of Europe’s richest clubs.
And, asked to confirm the reports, the Colchoneros coach told a news conference that the contract had indeed been revised, but for him the most important thing was to keep feeling a connection with the club, and his players, not the words on paper.
“It is true that it happened, but nothing changes,” Simeone said. “We are fine, I am happy where I am, I am guided by feelings and my heart. This does not change anything, and the only thing is to see if the lads keep giving me their hearts. During the two years we can renew the deal, if they don’t want to get rid of me.”
Simeone has been linked with many big clubs through recent seasons, including Paris Saint Germain, Arsenal and Chelsea, and was asked if he was annoyed about all the speculation over his future.
“It does not annoy me,” he responded. “It is normal when everything you do generates things like this. If I am here, it is because I want to be here. I decided four and a half years ago to keep this close relationship with the club, the fans, because I feel it. The only thing that moves me is the energy I feel around me. I am guided by what my head and my heart tells me, and I am not going to change now at 46 years of age.”
Asked to explain why he wanted to reduce the deal by two years, after suggesting following the disappointment in Milan that he might step away from the job, Simeone was less forthright with his response.
“It is necessary to do what we believe is right, we understand this is an important situation for everyone,” he said. “What is signed within contracts is private. I was pretty clear in what I said. We are fine, I am happy here where I am.”
Atletico face Sporting Gijon at Vicente Calderon on Saturday, with the visitors having had their best start to a La Liga season in three decades — going into the weekend with seven points from three games, third in the table, five places above their hosts.
The Argentine coach said he expected a difficult game, recalling that last season Sporting had beaten his team 2-1 in their meeting in Gijon.
“We have found it tough against this team before,” Simeone said. “They are very well organised and uses spaces well. We will need to play a clever game to do them damage.”
This is the first of four games in 11 days for Atletico, including next Wednesday’s La Liga game at Barcelona, and the Champions League Group D clash at home to Bayern Munich a week later. Simeone did not give away how such a schedule would affect his lineup on Saturday.
“I will just think about the next game, tomorrow’s game,” he added. “That is how I think about rotation.”