Club Focus – Atletico Madrid – Eduardo Salvio joins Benfica while Tiago returns on loan

Atletico Madrid boss Quique Sanches Flores got his wish as Portuguese player Tiago is returning to the Vicente Calderon following his impressive six months loan spell last season. The Portugal midfielder will join once again on loan with Juventus retaining his ownership as the two clubs failed to agree on a fee and Los Rojiblancos could not afford to pay his wages in full. The Bianconeri were desperate to offload Tiago since he does not feature in the club’s plans for the season. Tiago never settled down and failed to impress a succession of Coaches in Turin despite his international pedigree and his solid club record, in particular with French side Lyon.

Tiago was being tracked by Atletico throughout the summer as the Coach deemed him a worthy addition following his successful loan spell which coincided with the club’s improvement in results and climb up the La Liga table. The Portuguese player was however unavailable for European competition and therefore did not play a part in the Europa League success when Los Rojiblancos defeated Fulham courtesy of a Diego Forlan double to lift the European trophy. Forlan would go on to have a great World Cup experience and consequently attract interest from a host of top tier clubs yet he has been vocal about his commitment to Atletico. The Uruguay star striker has matured into the squad’s leader and has made such a great leap when compared with his days with Manchester United. His presence made the club attractive for future targets and has yielded the signing of his fellow compatriot Diego Godin, who was one of the pleasant surprises for the South Americans as he served as a solid defensive wall during Uruguay’s march to the World Cup semi-final.

The Coach must be pleased with the club’s direction in the summer transfer market as besides the defensive enforcements, El Atleti have been able to keep attacking duo Forlan and Sergio Aguero, despite persistent speculation about their imminent departure. Flores must have his fingers crossed that Aguero and his striking partner will not be making a late move prior to the beginning of the kick-off of the La Liga season. Anything is possible as the club’s management is aware of the acute financial situation and cannot afford to leave the books unbalanced. Selling one of the marquee names could still be an option as Atletico have engaged in signing players during the summer as opposed to bringing in funds off player transfers.

Flores can only focus on the players at his disposal and the proper preparation for the season but while he has received a morale boost with Forlan’s confident statements, the Coach must be concerned with the defensive frailties which resurfaced against Mallorca in a 3-2 friendly defeat. The one good sign from this test was the comeback attempt by the players who responded to going 3-0 down by striking twice to make the score a bit more respectable. The Coach will have his work cut out for him to ensure the players can perform defensive duties to their best while giving recent signings ample time to adjust to their new environment. Besides Godin, Atletico also signed Brazilian defender Filipe while there are still possibilities for bringing in Rennes full-back Rod Fanni. Before the start of the season, Fanni will likely join, while forward Eduardo Salvio has already left the club in a loan deal. . The young Argentine attacker, who is only 20-years-old, is regarded as a player with potential but he has no space in the current line-up to mature and gain playing experience. Loaning Salvio solved the issues of having one too many of non-EU players on the club’s roster. It was unlikely to see new signing Godin as well as star player Aguero sacrificed making the loaning of Salvio a logical option.

Veteran defender Juanito could also depart with Levante pursuing the experienced centre-back while Brazilian forward Diego Costa could be loaned out for another season. Juanito is unlikely to feature again for the Madrid side and the summer signings provide ample cover for the backline. Flores will be keen to offload fringe players and help the management save on unnecessary payroll. In the meantime, the squad is eyeing the European Super Cup clash with Inter and Forlan has insisted Los Rojiblancos have a solid opportunity of winning their first trophy of the season at the expense of the Champions League winners.

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