Diego Costa and Koke are two of the poster boys of the upcoming transfer window.
It has not always been this way. In fact until a few weeks ago, midfielder Koke’s name was barely uttered outside the conversations of La Liga aficionados, while Costa only became a rumour mill regular last summer.
The two men have played a vital role in Diego Simeone’s side’s remarkable start to the campaign; one that sees them level on points with Barcelona in La Liga and through to the last-16 of the Champions League.
Every year, that season’s sensations are linked with moves regardless of how little sense those moves may make. So despite Atletico having every chance of breaking the Barcelona/Real Madrid monopoly domestically while also challenging in Europe, Costa continues to be linked with both Arsenal and Chelsea, while Koke is reportedly Manchester United’s latest midfield saviour.
But in an interview with Spanish newspaper AS, Simeone has spoken not of weakening the team, but strengthening it, of challenging rather than surrendering, of hope rather than regret.
Asked how good Costa could become, his manager said, “The limit is in himself. If he does not forget all that effort he had to do to get everything he got, he will continue to grow. Because we are all convinced he is a player who still has much to grow.”
Of possible January transfers he spoke only of strengthening, saying, “You always need something to improve, yes.”
And of the job he is doing at the club, he compared his work to that of an architect, “When the architect makes a house he first thinks about the foundation. You try to do everything slowly to make it look good.”
You sense Atletico Madrid is a project the Argentine coach has only just begun.
Perhaps an offer will come in for one of his players that is too good to refuse. But then again, perhaps his team is becoming too good for any of his players to refuse the chance to remain.
image: © azuaje