Have Atletico Madrid Replaced Key Players Well Enough to Retain La Liga Title?

Paul WilkesFeatured ColumnistJuly 21, 2014

LISBON, PORTUGAL - MAY 24:  In this handout image provided by UEFA, Diego Simeone, coach of Atletico Madrid attends the post match press conference after losing the UEFA Champions League final against Real Madrid at Estadio da Luz on May 24, 2014 in Lisbon, Portugal.   (Photo by Handout/UEFA via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images

The 2014-15 La Liga season is still six weeks away, but the transfer market is in full swing with individual squads beginning to take shape.

Atletico Madrid had an unbelievable campaign the last time around, and if they even come close to replicating their astonishing achievement, the Rojiblancos fans will be content.

The club's financial position dictates that they will need to sell players, and that process will persist for the foreseeable future as they aim to pay off huge debts.

They have lost three first-choice players this summer and a number of back-up options from the bench.

Jose Mourinho benefited most with Thibaut Courtois finally ending his loan spell and Diego Costa and Filipe Luis joining Chelsea in big money moves.

Other important departing squad members include David Villa, Tiago, Adrian Lopez and Diego. Another source of revenue has been generated with the sales of goalkeepers Sergio Asenjo and Roberto.

Their substitutes won't be at the same level on arrival, but one of manager Diego Simeone's strengths is his ability to improve his players technically and mentally.

The perfect example was when Radamel Falcao left for Monaco. Atletico acquired Villa on the cheap from Barcelona and at first glance it seemed that La Roja's all-time leading scorer was his direct replacement.

Instead it was Costa, who after showing improvement the previous year, was trusted to lead the club's attack. Villa had an important role to play, but it wasn't as their main man. His decline somewhat explains the low fee paid to the Catalans.

Atletico's history of replacing star strikers is well documented, with Fernando Torres and Sergio Aguero joining the aforementioned forwards.

This time it's Croatian Mario Mandzukic that will be tasked with the goalscoring burden.

The physical forward should have the attributes to be a huge success at the Vicente Calderon, as explained by Bleacher Report's own Croatian football expert Aleksandar Holiga in a detailed breakdown of the player.

He scored over 20 goals in both his seasons at Bayern Munich and is no stranger to collecting silverware.

Goalkeeper Jan Oblak has joined from Benfica with the difficult task of filling the void left by Courtois.

There are questions surrounding his personality, but Simeone won't stand for a lack of discipline and his club is the perfect breeding ground for young goalkeepers.

Guilherme Siqueira was with Oblak in Portugal and he has made a permanent move from Granada to Madrid.

Spanish paper AS claimed that the player was close to joining rivals Real Madrid last summer, per ESPN, but the move failed to materialise with Fabio Coentrao not moving.

Atletico have been pretty savvy in the transfer window overall, although the exit of a striker and a goalkeeper among the top five in the world in their respective positions will undoubtedly have a negative impact, especially since their rivals for the league championship are currently signing players of that caliber.

Both Barcelona and Real Madrid should be much stronger, at least in the attacking third of the pitch.

Simeone and his recruitment team will probably continue to strengthen the squad, provided they can attain some value.

Sevilla's Alberto Moreno has been mentioned on the left of defence with his move to Liverpool still not completed, according to AS via the Daily Mirror.

Meanwhile El Nino could make an emotional return to his old side with the Spanish version of Eurosport suggesting negotiations are taking place between Chelsea and Atletico for Torres, via Metro.

With Simeone at the helm, Atletico will continue to compete for major titles despite their obvious disadvantage.

While it's ultimately unlikely that they will be able to reclaim the title, the Argentinean has taught us to expect the unexpected.