There were times in recent seasons where it looked like Diego Simeone had reached his Atlético ceiling.
Cholo was appointed in 2011 and completely transformed the club, winning LaLiga, two Europa League finals and taking them to two Champions League finals.
But things were getting stale. Results dipped, players weren’t performing and Antonio Conte potentially leaving Inter offered the perfect escape route.
In typical Simeone fashion, however, Los Coloncheros have battled back and currently top LaLiga ahead of Real Madrid.
They are brilliant defensively having concede just six (!) goals in 16 games. But that’s not all. Going forward Marcos Llorente, João Félix and free transfer Luis Suárez have been brilliant.
So naturally they are adding Moussa Dembélé, who has proven himself a top goalscorer both domestically and in Europe.
Since joining Lyon from Celtic in August 2018, Dembélé has:
- 103 appearances
- 45 goals
- 11 assists
Fifty six direct goal contributions in 103 appearances is pretty fantastic and averaging 0.6 xG/xA per 90 minutes makes him one of the most productive players in Ligue 1.
Not only are his numbers exciting but, stylistically, he offers qualities Atlético currently lack in their forward options.
João Félix is supremely talented. He glides with the ball, can link with others, create and shoot on sight but struggles to lead the line.
Luis Suárez has also adapted his game to become a bigger penalty box presence — seven of his nine goals have come from inside the penalty area — but his physical qualities are waning with age.
Dembélé is a true number nine who can be the focal point and battle defenders but also offers the pace to get in behind.
His finishing is extremely accomplished on both feet and, more importantly, developing a relationship with Kieran Trippier could work wonders with his aerial prowess.
Not only will he be able to contribute domestically but in the Champions League, too.
The January transfer window is a typically difficult market to navigate.
Clubs are reluctant to sell midway through the season, players like waiting until the summer for more options and money usually stays in bank accounts.
But Atlético Madrid may have just secured LaLiga with their latest signing.