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Atletico Madrid have failed to take charge with Barcelona and Real Madrid struggling with new eras

Atletico Madrid have failed to take charge as Barcelona and Real Madrid struggle with new eras with Diego Simeone’ side languishing in sixth place… so will they swoop for Edinson Cavani to stop the rot?

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone called for patience on Sunday night at the Wanda Metropolitano. ‘We have to recognise that this is a season of transition,’ he said.

The problem with that argument is that it’s a very similar one used last season. Atletico spent big again in this summer but while some arrivals such as full backs Kierran Trippier and Renan Lodi have been instant successes others have not.

Real Madrid and Barcelona both started the season badly, making this the ideal campaign to really push for the title, but Atletico are down in sixth out of the Champions League places at the start of December. 

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has plenty food for thought about their current form

Atletico slumped to sixth in La Liga after losing 1-0 at home to Barcelona on Sunday night

Atletico slumped to sixth in La Liga after losing 1-0 at home to Barcelona on Sunday night

At the start of last season the club felt like it was stepping into a new era. Legendary midfield leader Gabi left and Fernando Torres had also played his last game. Antoine Griezmann stayed – for more money – and the club broke its transfer record to sign his pal Thomas Lemar from Monaco.

Atletico were going to finally evolve into a more expressive open team leaving behind the shackles of the ‘1-0 to Atletico’ era.

It didn’t work. They lost the ability to pick up 1-0 wins but there was no thrilling attacking football to replace the lost stability. Lemar was underwhelming and Costa – who re-signed mid-season was struggling.

One year on it’s a similar story. In the summer they broke their transfer record again, this time for Joao Felix. But the 19-year-old has been injured and unable to lead Atletico into a brave new world. They are struggling to score goals and so when they concede it often means defeat as it did against Barcelona on Sunday night.

‘We have to be patient,’ Simeone told supporters but those fans know that this year was a fantastic chance to establish an early lead with Real Madrid and Barcelona starting slowly.

Supporters were not dissatisfied with the performance against Barcelona. In Diario AS one column was headlined: ‘Like that, yes, you can lose’. In other words when the team gives everything but loses because the Ballon d’Or favourite scores a brilliant goal, then supporters accept it. 

Record signing Joao Felix has had his debut campaign disrupted by injury in Madrid so far

Record signing Joao Felix has had his debut campaign disrupted by injury in Madrid so far

How the top six of the La Liga table looks following Atletico's loss to Barcelona on Sunday night

How the top six of the La Liga table looks following Atletico’s loss to Barcelona on Sunday night

But Atletico have not always been beaten by genius this season. They have drawn seven matches – no team has drawn more. And often against sides that don’t spend what they spent on Joao Felix in the summer in five transfer windows, much less one.

They have the second best goals against record in the division so it’s not the defence that is leading to drawing so many games. But at the other end of the pitch they have big problems.

They have scored only 16 goals. Leaders Barcelona have already scored 20 more after only 14 matches played. Only one other side in the top half of the table has scored fewer goals.

At the end of the summer transfer window Simeone tried to sign another striker. Although he would never admit it publicly he could see that Costa had returned a shadow of the player he once was and if they team were genuinely going to compete with the big two they would need another forward.

Spain and Valencia striker Rodrigo left a Valencia training session on Tuesday, August 13 having said goodbye to his team-mates. He was bound for Atletico but his move to the capital depended on a chain of signings that never materialised. Milan had to sign Angel Correa to allow Atletico to pay the price Valencia were asking for Rodrigo but in the end the Italian club did not sign the Argentinian forward and Rodrigo stayed at Valencia.

Simeone was looking to bolster his forward options this summer

He had concerns over Diego Costa for one

Simeone was looking to bolster his forward options this summer with worries over Diego Costa

If Simeone thought his striking options needed improving last summer then injury to Costa and his complete lack of faith in Ivan Saponjic have made it even more of a January priority.

The latter is yet to get a single minute of football since arriving from Benfica in the summer. The 22-year-old is the only member of Simeone’s squad to so far have played no minutes and the coach even occasionally forgets to name him when he is going through his striking options.

The solution is for the club to bring in a forward in January but just as in the summer when they needed to sell Correa to bring in Rodrigo they will still need someone to leave. Lemar – last season’s record signing – is a leading candidate. As for who might be incoming: there is little doubt who Simeone wants if he can’t have Rodrigo which looks unlikely.

Edinson Cavani has slipped down the pecking order at Paris Saint-Germain and is a long-time favourite.

If the club can generate the space on the wage bill then he could be the solution.

Something needs to happen to save Simeone’s season. This campaign Atletico should have been pushing to be champions. As things stand they won’t even make the Champions League.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani (right) has been a long-time target of Simeone's

Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani (right) has been a long-time target of Simeone’s



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