Grading Atletico Madrid's Transfer-Window Signings

Tim CollinsFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2014

Grading Atletico Madrid's Transfer-Window Signings

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    For a club that is perpetually forced to sell its finest players, Atletico Madrid continue to perform extremely well in the transfer market.

    After cashing in on stars such as Diego Costa, Filipe Luis and Adrian Lopez in recent months—also waving goodbye to Thibaut Courtois and David Villa—the defending La Liga champions have secured another wave of valuable performers, headlined by Antoine Griezmann and Mario Mandzukic. 

    Having masterminded his team's surge past Barcelona and Real Madrid last season, Diego Simeone has opted for a blend of promising talents and seasoned campaigners this summer, recognising that both raw brilliance and hardened experience will be needed to sustain his team's excellence. 

    Across the following slides, we examine each of Atleti's new signings, grading them on quality, the expected length of their impact and how they'll fit into Simeone's side. 

9. Cristian Ansaldi

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Position: Left-Back

    Signed From: Zenit St Petersburg

    Transfer Fee: Loan

    Losing Filipe Luis to Chelsea was a blow for Atletico Madrid, given that the Brazilian was outstanding at left-back for the Spanish champions last term. 

    To help fill that hole, Atleti have brought Cristian Ansaldi to the Vicente Calderon on a season-long loan, adding depth and experience to the squad's defence stocks. 

    A strong athlete, solid passer and robust tackler, the 27-year-old fits the Diego Simeone mould, but after spending €10 million on Guilherme Siqueira, playing time will likely be limited for Ansaldi in his only season at the club. 

    Grade: C

8. Jesus Gamez

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Position: Right-Back

    Signed From: Malaga

    Transfer Fee: £2.2 million

    Reflective of Diego Simeone's apparent eagerness to base his team's La Liga defence on experience, Atletico have brought in the 29-year-old Jesus Gamez from Malaga to give added depth behind Juanfran at right-back. 

    The former captain at the Rosaleda, the Spaniard is a reliable defensive option who tackles hard, positions himself well and rarely gambles when going forward.

    Behind the more enterprising Juanfran such tendencies should prove valuable to Simeone, even if Gamez is both an unspectacular and a short-term solution.  

    Grade: C

7. Guilherme Siqueira

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Position: Left-Back

    Signed From: Granada

    Transfer Fee: €10 million (£8 million)

    Atletico Madrid's obvious replacement for Filipe Luis, Guilherme Siqueira arrives in the Spanish capital after enjoying a successful season on loan at Benfica in 2013-14.

    But can he replicate the performances of his departed compatriot?

    Whereas Luis was an incredibly reliable defender for Diego Simeone, Siqueira is an attacking left-back who likes to push forward to challenge opposing defences with searching crosses into the box. He's a penalty taker too. 

    While such tendencies are desirable, they don't fit seamlessly with the Atletico way, meaning the 28-year-old will need to adjust somewhat to ensure he contributes to Los Rojiblancos' robust shape.  

    Grade: B-

6. Alessio Cerci

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    Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

    Position: Forward

    Signed From: Torino

    Transfer Fee: £13.2 million

    The capture of Alessio Cerci is unlikely to be the sort of signing we'll look back upon as a masterstroke from Atletico Madrid by season's end, but the Italian will bolster the club's attacking stocks. 

    A versatile forward capable of playing on the wing or as a secondary striker, the 27-year-old will provide Diego Simeone with options up front. Such a commodity will be important in 2014-15, given that first-choice forwards Mario Mandzukic and Antoine Griezmann will inevitably wear down at some point this season as they become accustomed to Atleti's gruelling, attritional approach. 

    Cerci's threat on the counter-attack, thanks to his pace and long-range shooting prowess, also suits his new team, but he'll need to significantly improve his work without the ball to secure Simeone's trust. 

    Grade: B-

5. Raul Jimenez

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Position: Striker

    Signed From: Club America

    Transfer Fee: €10 million (£8 million)

    Don't be fooled into thinking Raul Jimenez has been brought to Atletico Madrid in the expectation that he'll prove to be an immediate replacement for departed stars such as Diego Costa and David Villa. 

    At just 23 years of age and without any experience in Spain, the promising striker is unlikely to be a major hit in his first season at the Vicente Calderon. 

    But already a Mexico international and fresh from scoring 11 goals in his final 18 appearances at Club America, Jimenez has the ability to become a fine striker for Los Rojiblancos, combining pace and strength with his back to goal into a 6'3" frame.

    Such a package will need time to develop, but perhaps more than any other, Atletico have a fine history for turning strikers into stars. 

    Grade: B

4. Miguel Angel Moya

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Position: Goalkeeper

    Signed From: Getafe

    Transfer Fee: €3 million (£2.4 million)

    Quite simply, that transfer fee looks like good business.

    For a number of seasons, Miguel Angel Moya has been a fine goalkeeper for Getafe, sitting comfortably alongside—in a statistical sense, at least—more heralded glovemen such as Diego Lopez, Willy Caballero and Victor Valdes as one of La Liga's finest keepers, perhaps only behind the likes of Thibaut Courtois and Keylor Navas. 

    Awarded Atletico Madrid's No. 1 shirt and possibly ahead of Jan Oblak in the pecking order, the 30-year-old is a solid replacement for Courtois and has been secured at a great price. 

    Grade: B+

3. Jan Oblak

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    Position: Goalkeeper

    Signed From: Benfica

    Transfer Fee: £12.6 million

    It's difficult to know what to make of Jan Oblak's move to Atletico. 

    On one hand, the defending La Liga champions have secured one of the finest goalkeeping talents in Europe, snapping up—for a considerable fee, of course—a player capable of being an outstanding, long-term pillar of stability at the back to replace Thibaut Courtois. 

    Yet, after an injury-hit summer, in an interview with the club's television channel, Benfica president Luis Filipe Vieira has claimed Atleti attempted to sell the Slovenian back to the Portuguese club—a suggestion Atletico have denied

    It's a strange development made more intriguing by Diego Simeone using Miguel Angel Moya in goal in the early weeks of the season (Oblak's injury will have contributed to that).

    Provided such obstacles can be overcome, Oblak will be a fine gloveman for Atletico, but it's been a rocky beginning for him to life at Vicente Calderon. 

    Grade: B+

2. Mario Mandzukic

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Position: Striker

    Signed From: Bayern Munich

    Transfer Fee: £17.5 million

    It was always going to be difficult for Atletico to replace Diego Costa, given that—not forgetting the goals—his feisty approach and relentless work rate was reflective of the heart and soul of Diego Simeone's side. 

    But in Mario Mandzukic, Los Rojiblancos have secured a proven scorer who arrives at the Vicente Calderon having excelled in previous stops at Dinamo Zagreb, Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich. 

    A physical presence who's strong on either foot and in the air, the Croatian will thrive in Atleti's direct style that makes of the most of the side's renowned set pieces. 

    Yet, unlike Costa, Mandzukic doesn't possess the running power to drag the Spanish champions out of defence and up the pitch on his own, meaning he's not the supreme outlet the Spaniard was before him. 

    Grade: B+

1. Antoine Griezmann

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Position: Attacking Midfielder/Forward

    Signed From: Real Sociedad

    Transfer Fee: £24 million

    Versatile, extremely talented and a natural scorer, Antoine Griezmann is a fantastic addition for Atletico Madrid.

    Needing pace alongside Mario Mandzukic, Diego Simeone will likely play the Frenchman just off his main striker, allowing the former Real Sociedad star to use his pace to trouble defences, while also ensuring Atleti can push up the pitch.  

    Easily capable of moving back into the midfield if needed, Griezmann could make his transfer fee seem like a bargain if he ascends to the level that many believe is within his reach. 

    Grade: A