Atlético Madrid are league champions — but there are still improvements that need to be made ahead of a title defense in 2021/22.
For one, Atlético could use another option in central midfield, another creative player there to share playmaking duties with Koke. Atleti’s captain (and two-time league champion) took up a holding midfield role after Thomas Partey left, and he excelled in the position. Geoffrey Kondogbia, ostensibly Thomas’ replacement, made only four starts after completing his move from Valencia and most often entered as a late-game, defensive-minded substitute. And after enduring his worst season as a colchonero, Saúl Ñíguez looks more out than in for 2021/22.
This indicates that Diego Simeone might not view the “Koke-as-anchor” strategy as a bandaid or a “break glass in case of emergency.” Rather, Cholo may see Koke as capable of filling that role in his preferred 11 next season and beyond, after years as a wide midfielder.