When the summer transfer window opens, owners and managers make lists of players they would like to sign, but rarely are they able to complete what they set out to do. That is unless you are Atletico Madrid boss Javier Aguirre.
At the beginning of the summer Aguirre set out a list of six players that he needed to sign to push his team to the next level. Of those six, he has signed five—all since July 1.
Aguirre has used the momentum from a surprise fourth place finish in La Liga last season and the prospect of playing in the Champions League this season to reel in five top players:
Tomas Ujfalusi. The defender captained the Czech team in the recent European Championships and had a strong season with Serie A’s Fiorentina last season.
Florent Sinama-Pongolle. The French striker is just 23-years-old and scored an impressive 22 goals last season with Recreativo in Spain.
Paulo Assuncao. The Brazilian midfielder spent last season in Portugal with three time champion FC Porto. His arrival most likely spells the end of the line for Portuguese midfielder Maniche.
Gregory Coupet. The French goalkeeper joins Atletico from Olympique Lyon where he had won seven straight league titles. While he is 35-years-old, he is still considered one of the best in the world.
John Heitinga. The most recent and the most expensive of the signings, Heitinga is a strong defender who was at only 24 was named the Netherlands’ player of the year last season.
These players will be added a team that is stacked with young talent in every part of the field and will surely challenge their cross-town rivals to the crown in La Liga this season.
One place where Atletico was weak last season was on the back line. They were known for scoring goals but also giving them up. Heitinga and Ujfalusi, along with Coupet, will immediately fortify the back line and give the talented midfield more freedom to roam.
Speaking of the midfield, Atletico has one of the most creative and dangerous midfields in La Liga and possibly the world.
While Assuncao is expected to play right away, it may be hard to sqeez him in. The midfield is led by Argentine playmaker Maxi Rodriguez and Portugues winger Simao.
Last season Raul Garcia played in a more holding midfield position often joined by young star Ignacio Camacho. Liverpool cast-off Luis Garcia, José Reyes, Jose Jurado, Cleber Santana will all be fighting for playing time in the center of the pitch.
Up front was where Atletico were extremely dangerous last season. The pairing of Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero and Diego Forlan combined to score 44 goals last season and was one of the most dangerous pairs in the world.
Add Sinama-Pongolle to that mix and this team is sure to score a lot of goals.
Atletico has not appeared in the Champion’s League in the last 11 years but with this club they have a chance to make a deep run.
If nothing else, Aguirre signalled the rest of La Liga—especially Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Villareal—that they are here to stay and are prepared to win.