In the wake of the recent Champions League final defeat Atletico Madrid suffered at the hands of city rivals Real, coach Diego Simeone has been left pondering over his future at the club.
“Do I have to continue with Atlético or is it the end of a cycle? I have to think about that,” Simeone told a news conference. It’s a logical question for you to ask after a defeat like the one we’ve suffered today. I feel proud of my players. Quite frankly I love my players. It’s obvious that they’ve given everything that they have, and they always give everything they have.”
“You do your best, you try to do what you can, you get to two finals and you lose them both,” he said.“This cycle for me at Atlético, two finals in three years is, actually a marvellous achievement, but I am not happy with what I have achieved.” (via The Guardian)
Back to back bitter defeats at the hands of cross town rivals has left an indelible impression in the mind of the Argentine tactician. The Hard Tackle looks at Diego Simeone’s potential destinations should he choose to part ways with his beloved club this summer.
Simeone perhaps would have been a match made in heaven for n number of English clubs – Manchester United, Liverpool and especially Chelsea FC. However, at the moment, Simeone’s options look limited to either Spain or Italy (where he had made his name as a footballer), since the top English clubs have all committed themselves to the charge of top managers.
For a time it seemed that Chelsea was the most desirable destination for Simeone as the Londoners would have no problem embracing Simeone’s brand of football, which many find hard to accept in Spain. In a country where joga bonito is the order of the day, Simeone’s hard tackling, un-aesthetic, disciplined, stifling and austere style of play has often come under harsh criticism from football pundits.
Whereas Real and Barcelona fans would never appreciate the scoreline-oriented style of constrictive football, across the coast Valencia would prove to be a viable destination for Simeone.
Peter Lim and Valencia have the suitable project and fund to entice the Argentine tactician away from the Spanish capital. A team filled with talented youngsters like Shkodran Mustafi, Paco Alcacer, Andre Gomes, Sofiane Feghouli, Zakaria Bakkali and Enzo Perez, Valencia has been underperforming despite the quality they have in their side.
Peter Lim is a billionaire from Singapore who would not shy away from the more plebeian style of football that is Simeone’s hallmark as long as it brings him results. Moreover, Peter Lim himself boasts of a rags to riches story, having made his way up in the world from being a cab driver in his twenties.
Diego Simeone is no stranger to Italy – not only does he have friends and acquaintances all over the peninsula but many football pundits in Italy are of the opinion that Simeone is essentially a proponent of the “decadent” style of football that many associate with Italy. Italian footballing legends had on more than one occasion criticised Barcelona’s brand of football and lauded Simeone’s workman style of football.
Many believe that Italy had a massive role to play in Simeone’s footballing education after his years as a midfielder playing for Lazio and Inter Milan. Cholo had started his coaching career in Catania which, according to Atalanta winger Papu Gomez, had a role to play in his footballing worldview.
Inter Milan, who have been struggling ever since Jose Mourinho left after their treble winning season despite spending an enormous amount of money on the transfer market, is without a doubt Simeone’s most preferred destination. Simeone had spoken of his love for Inter and a potential return on not just one but on two occasions.
“Throughout my career there are certain posts I expect to go to,” Atleti Coach Simeone revealed in an interview with Premium Sport on the 5th of April. “So I hope to return to Milan in the future. Not now, because I’m fine at Atletico, but it’s a situation I envisage, just as I envisaged being back here in Madrid.” (via Football Italia)
Simeone reiterated his words again on the 26th – “one day I will return to Inter as a Coach, because I have good memories as a player there. I still speak to Javier Zanetti on the phone and I am not afraid to say it,” Simeone told Mediaset Premium television.
Despite a fourth place finish for Inter this year, which has been their best ever in the Post-Mourinho era, Roberto Mancini’s stay is far from being a certainty. Inter’s Indonesian owner Erick Thohir hasn’t come out and shown full conviction in the coach who led Manchester City to their first Premier League trophy since the 60s. It is needless to say that Inter has the wealth and the heritage to tempt Simeone away from Vicente Calderon.
AC Milan remains a far fetched possibility. However if the reader will allow, despite the obvious cringe and shock at the mere suggestion of loyal Simeone betraying his soul to coach cross town bitter rivals AC Milan, even the fiercely loyal Sinisa Mihajlovic, incidentally Simeone’s teammate at Lazio and fellow Inter legend, recently coached Milan before being unjustly and ingloriously sacked by the club.
Besides, with the new Chinese takeover in place, Milan’s new management will be eager to bring in an international name to the bench before guaranteeing multi-million euro reinforcements in the market. Chances of Milan retaining Brocchi are very slim at the moment, and of all the big clubs in the world, AC Milan is the only club in dire need of a good coach, having gone from Allegri to Seedorf, Seedorf to Inzaghi and Inzaghi to Mihajlovic and so on in the span of just 3 years. Whether the name, brand and the fresh injection of Chinese money will be enough for Simeone to overcome his loyalties remains to be seen .