Atletico prepare for player exodus
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone warned his side's fans immediately after Saturday's 4-1 extra-time Champions League final defeat to neighbours Real Madrid that the summer is likely to see important players coming and going at the club.
Atletico seemed headed for a first ever European Cup due to Diego Godin's first-half header, but deep into added time Sergio Ramos equalised for Madrid, and an exhausted Rojiblanco side could do little in the additional 30 minutes as Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo added a harsh look to the final scoreline.
While winning a first La Liga title in 18 years this season should help lessen the pain of such a defeat, Colchoneros fans now have to deal with a likely exodus of key players from the club this summer.
Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is set to return to Chelsea with his third season-long loan deal having ended, and could now remain at Stamford Bridge as first-choice next year. Attacker David Villa, midfielders Jose Sosa, Tiago Mendes, Cristian Rodriguez and Diego Ribas, and reserve goalkeeper Dani Aranzubia, are all also out of contract -- with most if not all likely to leave.
Thirty-six-goal top scorer Diego Costa is widely expected to also move to Chelsea in the summer in a deal worth around 32 million pounds, while cash-strapped Atletico may find it difficult to turn down big-money bids for attacker Adrian Lopez, midfielders Koke and Mario Suarez and defenders Filipe Luis, Godin and Miranda.
While Simeone mentioned no names at his post-game news conference in Lisbon, he did admit that planning for next season would begin immediately, and suggested there would be plenty of ins and outs.
"On Monday we will meet with [Jose Luis] Caminero, Andrea [Berta], Miguel Angel [Gil] and Clemente [Villaverde] to prepare the team for next season," Simeone said. "We will see about the exits, the arrivals, the lads who might leave and the intentions of those who could come in."