For the last 30 years, near enough every time they have sold their star No. 9, a new man has filled the void. Most recently Fernando Torres, Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan have all been sold—now Radamel Falcao has joined that list.
Even before them Hugo Sanchez, Christian Vieri and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink were among the famous front men to have bid goodbye to the Vicente Calderon.
With Falcao's departure to Monaco confirmed, manager Diego Simeone will be scouring the market seeking someone to put the ball in goal next season.
Pizzi, who spent this season on loan at Deportivo La Coruna, and Leo Baptistao, the former Rayo Vallecano Brazilian forward, will check in this summer, but El Cholo will still want to reinforce an attack which will lack a considerable punch given the absence of El Tigre's goals.
Sevilla's Alvaro Negredo, via Football Espana, and Galatasaray's Burak Yilmaz, have both been mentioned in hushed tones around Madrid's tapas bars according to Football Espana and Tom Maston of Goal.com, but it's Aston Villa's Christian Benteke who has become Atletico's top target, via John Cross of the Mirror.
Cross suggests that director general Miguel Angel Gil Marin has not just spoken with Benteke’s representatives but has also held discussions with Villa with a view to signing the Belgian forward.
The 22-year-old arrived at Villa Park last summer—an £8 million signing from Genk—and posted an impressive 19 goals in his debut season in the Premier League.
Falcao registered 28 in La Liga, but Benteke would arrive younger, far from a carbon copy of the Colombian and with a different role to play in a new-look Atleti front-line.
Reliance would not—you would expect—be bestowed upon Benteke like it often was Falcao. Surrounded by Arda Turan, Diego Costa, Pizzi and Baptistao, Simeone would be allowed more freedom and flexibility with his front line.
Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe commented on how much Benteke has developed over the past year, having arrived as a raw striker from Belgium's Jupiler Pro League. Standing at 6'2", he offers a different threat to Falcao altogether.
Less finesse than his possible predecessor—rarely better demonstrated by the Colombian than his assist in the Copa del Rey final for Costa—Benteke offers strength, aerial dominance and athleticism, although Tighe notes his lack of productivity in terms of distribution and decision making.
The £40 million price tag slapped on his head by his club is problematic though. Given that Falcao left for around £50 million, it's unlikely Los Rojiblancos will be offering anywhere near that amount.
But with Champions League football on offer and former Genk colleague Thibaut Courtois telling AS (via Goal.com) that "[Benteke] would be a great signing for Atletico," it's not hard to see why the move would seem appealing.
He'd not be a like-for-like replacement for Falcao, but he would add most of the goals to a new look, more flexible Atleti front line.