While Atleti recruited well, it was more about strengthening the squad than the first team. Only one of the new additions has managed to force his way into the starting XI and on that premise by default the award goes to Kevin Gameiro.
Having said that, it is well merited too. Signed for big money from Sevilla, the French striker has looked at home with Los Rojiblancos. The price tag has not seemed to weigh too heavy on his shoulders, which is more than can be said for a number of his predecessors. A coolly taken penalty in the 93rd minute on his debut against Alaves helped ease any doubts that the Vicente Calderon faithful might have harboured in that respect. A goal in the rout against Sporting Gijon and a wonderful solo effort to seal victory at Valencia just before the international break mean that he has three goals thus far in the league — more than the man he replaced, Luciano Vietto, managed in the whole of last season.
Most crucially of all, he was brought in to help ease the goal-scoring burden on Antoine Griezmann and on that front so far so good. He has been a regular contributor and looks to be developing a wonderful on-pitch rapport with his compatriot and fellow striker. The No. 21 has notched three assists for his teammate already and if those two continue in the same vein then Los Colchoneros have a real chance of achieving big things this campaign.
Another easy one: Nicolas Gaitan. The former Benfica man was perennially linked with a move to Atletico from just about the moment he arrived in Lisbon and finally made the switch to the Spanish capital for €25 million this summer.
Big things were expected from the Argentine, especially after he magnificently put Atleti to the sword in last season’s Champions League group stage at the Calderon. Instead, it has been a tale of missed opportunities for Gaitan, who has not settled as Simeone would have liked. On his debut in the first game of the season against Alaves, he slipped when taking a corner and put it straight out for a goal kick. It has not been much better since.
Winning a penalty when the side were already 4-0 up against Gijon aside, Gaitan has contributed very little and was abject in the Champions League victory against PSV.
It seems as if the pace of La Liga has taken him by surprise and whatever he tries — at times even the most simple control of a football — is not coming off. The form of both Yannick Carrasco and Angel Correa has seen him pushed way down the pecking order, when you would have expected the new big money arrival to be the man in possession.
He can take solace in the fact that the aforementioned duo had teething problems last season. They were both erratic — albeit showing much more promise in earlier games — but now look like world beaters, so all hope is not lost.
Atletico are still sweating on the outcome of their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport concerning a transfer ban, so there may well not be any new signings.
A backup left-back to help share the workload with Filipe Luis must be top of the list should Atleti be successful in their appeal. Lucas Hernandez does a stellar job when needed, but he has shown outstanding promise as a centre-back of late and Simeone now sees him there as part of his long-term plans.
Over the summer, a backup for Juanfran was sourced in the form of Sime Vrsaljko, with the view to a long-term succession plan. It was a positive, forward thinking move and now the same must be done with Filipe who, while enjoying a fine time of late, is 31 and cannot go on forever.
They could do worse than look at Jose Luis Gaya at Valencia, albeit he will not be cheap. Alternatively, Juan Bernat has found himself out of favour and short of playing time at Bayern Munich since Carlo Ancelotti took over. Worth a punt, surely.
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