Diego Simeone and Atletico de Madrid are all about pragmatism – and part of that means looking toward the future.
On Friday “Los Colchoneros” delighted their fans as they announced the signings of two of the most exciting young players of the American continent: Argentinian midfielder Matias Kranevitter and 19-year old Colombian forward Rafael Santos Borre.
The former signed for a fee of €8 million from Argentinian giants River Plate, while the latter was transferred for €5 million from Colombian champions Deportivo Cali. But neither of the two players will join in with Atletico’s squad just yet.
Though Kranevitter and Borre were both in Madrid Friday to complete their respective medical examinations and paperwork, both players will be going back to their clubs on loan immediately – the Argentine is set to return to Atletico in six months, after playing the Club World Championship with River, while the Colombian international will remain in his country for at least one year.
Now, Borre and Kranevitter will form part of an extremely exciting crop of young players that has been building in Atletico for a while, including the likes of Luciano Vietto, Oliver Torres, Antoine Griezmann and Argentinian wonderkid Angel Correa. But do these two new recruits really have what it takes to stand out amongst such a list of promising stars?
Kranevitter, the oldest of the two, looks much like a sure bet. The central midfielder exudes experience in spite of his young age. He has played more than 80 games in the past two seasons for River Plate, and he was an integral part of the team that won the Copa Sudamericana and the Copa Libertadores titles.
In fact, according to media reports, Atletico actually wanted Kranevitter to join the first-team squad immediately, and it was only under an ultimatum from River Plate that they agreed to let him stay in Argentina until after the World Club Championship.
“He is a footballer that fits perfectly into our philosophy of reinforcing the group with quality and youth,” said Director of Football Jose Luis Perez Caminero.
Kranevitter is a fast, strong player, with great defensive technique, and a quick knack for finding the right pass – which makes him a perfect match for Simeone’s men.
Borre, on the other hand, has less of a track record. He is younger than Kranevitter, and probably not as experienced. However, the Deportivo Cali attacker has made an impact around the world with his performances in the local league and in the last international U-20 Championships – and if he’s a gamble, he’s probably one worth taking.
In fact, for Borré, it has been a fantastic year so far – probably his best ever. The striker, who made his debut at age 17 with Cali, has already scored 11 goals in 15 games so far this season. He is technically gifted –and while he’s not nearly as powerful as the likes of Radamel Falcao or Jackson Martinez, his combination of technique and wit makes him a fantastic finisher.
“I try not to collide a lot. I try to be a forward that will collide only if he has to. I try not to look for contact all the time. I try to look for the ball,” Borre said in an interview earlier this year.
“If you tell me play as a number 9 and drop deep I am happy because I like to make the team play, but I also like to be there in the moment of finishing,” he added.
However, Caminero admitted that, even though Atletico had no doubts about the 19-year old’s transfer, they had thought it best for him to continue his development with his current team.
“When he joins the squad in a year, he will have acquired much more experience and he will add more competitiveness in the offensive side of our group,” he said.
For now Atletico have both, the striker and the central-midfielder positions, covered – with Jackson and Griezmann occupying the former, while Gabi and Tiago do their thing in the latter.
However the fans at Estadio Vicente Calderón will definitely be keeping their eyes open for what Kranevitter and Borre will bring to the squad in the near future.