Atletico lose players but retain belief (and, er, some players)
At first LLL went into Atlético Madrid default mode. What did it all mean?! What was the significance?! Was it a coded message to someone?! Was it an insult?!
But then the blog remembered the Rojiblancos are a normal club these day. Well, as normal as Atlético ever can be. Instead, Diego Simeone’s choice of attire upon his return to the home of the Spanish champions was mere coincidence.
The genius, studly-looking Argentinian was pushing his luggage trolly sporting a t-shirt with ‘Believe’ written on it, but with the world ‘lie’ highlighted. Rather than meaning anything, it was all about early-90s, Zoo-TV Achtung-Baby-era U2; nothing more than that.
Poor Simeone has a near Mission Impossible in the new campaign. Well, two Mission Impossibles, as steering Atlético through the choppy waters of life is an already tricky business. El Cholo must try to match last season’s astonishing performance, except that most of the key cogs of his title-winning team have either gone or have one boot out the door.
Diego Costa has done one to Chelsea, and LLL is going out on a limb to say the striker may be found out a little, Roberto Soldado-style. Or score 50 goals. Could go either way. The World Cup flop went to the Premier League for €38 million but Atlético will only receive half of that figure with the rest going to Jorge Mendes, investment groups and Sporting Braga. Costa's former striker partner David Villa has headed Stateside via Melbourne as he waits for New York FC to get up and running.
Tiago Mendes also looks set to move to west London, having run down his contract in Madrid. And – LLL is seeing a pattern here – Thibaut Courtois is also all set for Stamford Bridge, returning to his parent club after three years at the Vicente Calderon finishing school. In keeping with the theme, Chelsea are also looking at left-back Filipe Luis and probably the rest of the back four, as well. Apart from Juanfran, that is, who is always going to be an acquired taste.
However with Atlético, it may be all bad news first before the good stuff comes along. Levante have confirmed that an offer for Costa Rican keeper Keylor Navas has already come in from the Rojiblancos, although they have already signed the excellent Miguel Angel Moyá from Getafe. Granada left-back Guilherme Siqueira has joined the fun, while wee nipper Ángel Correa joins from San Lorenzo, although the deal won't be finalised until the 5ft 8in teenage forward has completely recovered from microsurgery on a heart condition.
And not all of the old gang are headed for pastures new. Captain and midfield marshall Gabi has extended his contract and the transfer talk over Koke has died down a little. Arda Turan and Raúl García are also set to stay at the Calderón.
Meanwhile, the new-new Diego Costa/Falcao/Diego Forlán/Kun Agüero/Fernando Torres could well be Álvaro Negredo; although the Manchester City forward's price may be a little steep for Atlético, there's no doubting the attractiveness these days of playing for the La Liga champions and Champions League finalists, especially for players (like the former Sevilla hotshot) who wish to remain in the Spanish eyeline as a new cycle begins for the national team.
True, Real Madrid may be bringing in World Cup flavours-of-the-month and Barcelona are set to have Luis Suaréz available from November, but there's no reason not to think that Atlético can succeed again with the "take each game as it comes" strategy.
As Simeone was non-verbally communicating on his return to Spain, all you have to do is believe.