There was a moment in the second half of Atletico Madrid’s sad capitulation on Tuesday night when Real Madrid substitute Alvaro Morata ran past Diego Simeone on the touchline and the Argentine coach said something to him which made him turn his head and smile.
Simeone covered his mouth with his hand but it seems the phrase uttered was ‘vente conmigo’ – basically: ‘come and play for me’.
Morata – the player with the second best goals per games ratio in Spain behind Leo Messi – was not used by Zinedine Zidane. How Simeone would have loved to have been able to bring on the 24-year-old current Spain centre-forward. Instead he had to make do with the 33-year-old former Spain centre-forward Fernando Torres.
Last summer when Simeone was asked which striker he wanted to bring to the Vicente Calderon to play alongside Antoine Griezmann, Morata was one of three names he put forward. But just like Edinson Cavani and Diego Costa, Atletico Madrid could not make the deal happen and Simeone had to go further down his wish-list until he got to a player that the club could afford to bring in: Kevin Gameiro.
The former Sevilla striker is not in the same category as the other three. He was overlooked by France last summer ahead of the Euros. He falls short of the standard of striker that will help Atletico Madrid win a Champions League – something it looks increasingly like they might not manage under Simeone.
Winter is coming to the red-and-white half of Madrid. Only by somehow moving to another level in terms of their spending and recruitment can it be averted.
Let’s have a quick round of Family Fortunes to illustrate the point. Fingers on buzzers. Name something that makes Atletico special. Diego Simeone. Ding! Our survey said top answer.
Name something else that makes Atletico Madrid special. Antoine Griezmann. Ding! Second top answer. And something else? The Vicente Calderon, Spain’s most atmospheric stadium – a cauldron of noise in the heart of the city. Ding! Third top answer.
There is a chance that all three of those things – Simeone, Griezmann and the Calderon - will be gone soon. The stadium will definitely be history come the end of the season. Griezmann’s buy-out clause of €100m will not be enough to deter bids so it will come down to him to either accept or decline the invitation to move on. And Simeone knows he can take the Inter job pretty much when he pleases.
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: A crisis looms for Atleti - and there's only one way to prevent it