Simeone 'proud' of departing quartet as Atletico prepare for new chapter
Atleti potentially said farewell to four long-serving players in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Levante but their head coach is excited about the future
Diego Simeone was “proud” of Atletico Madrid’s departing players as he all but confirmed the end-of-season exits of full-backs Filipe Luis and Juanfran.
Atletico striker Antoine Griezmann had already confirmed on Tuesday that he intends to leave the Wanda Metropolitano ahead of next season amid rumoured interest from La Liga rivals Barcelona.
Diego Godin is also on his way out, with Inter expected to be his next destination, while Filipe Luis and Juanfran do not appear likely to sign new contracts.
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All four men played a full part in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Levante, giving Atletico’s travelling supporters a chance to say what will likely be a final farewell, and they will each leave with Simeone’s blessing.
“I am proud of the players who are leaving the club, as they have given us so much,” he said at his post-match news conference.
“The biggest thing that Filipe, Juanfran, Griezmann and Godin leave us is not trophies, but respect. In a sporting sense I love them so much.”
Atletico found themselves 2-0 down at the Ciutat de Valencia and had Angel Correa dismissed early in the second half, but Rodrigo and debutant Sergio Camello struck to snatch the 10-man visitors a point.
Simeone praised the battling spirit shown by his players to avoid defeat in their final match of the season and insisted there is plenty of reason to be cheerful, despite the loss of some star names.
“In the first half, Levante perhaps were a bit more focused and took advantage of their set pieces and breaks,” he said. “In the second half, despite Correa’s red card, the team answered as warriors, gladiators, people with pride.
“There are young and motivated players coming through and that excites us greatly.”
Camello became the first player born in the 21st century to score for Atletico in LaLiga, doing so from his first shot on target in the competition.
The 18-year-old forward, who replaced the ineffective Thomas Partey at half-time, is hopeful it is the first of many goals for the club.
“I tried to help the team and today I did just that,” he told reporters after the match. “I’m deeply moved. I can score goals and I proved that today. I would like to become a legend at this club, like any kid, especially an Atleti fan. I’m very happy.”