Despite hailing from a major football power in Argentina, Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has not signed many Argentine players in his time. And outside of Angel Correa, few of his compatriots have actually played at the level and standard that the coach would have wanted and expected. However, fresh from a title win and a likely contract extension, ‘Cholo’ is expected to make moves for two hugely rated Argentine players: Rodrigo de Paul and Lautaro Martinez.
Both players currently play in Serie A in Italy, but are believed to be key targets for Los Colchoneros. The former, de Paul, has been a star turn for Udinese in his several seasons at Friuli. However, that appears to be at an end as, despite being the club captain, de Paul has simply outgrown the club. The Pozzo-owned outfit have not really competed in the Italian game for several years, and this could see them move on from de Paul as he takes that crucial next step in his career.
Having played for Valencia in his first post-Argentina move, it took de Paul time to develop into the high octane playmaker he is today. Now, he looks set to return to a club that plays at the top end of the European game. Lautaro Martinez is expected to be on the market as Inter look to sacrifice one of their primary forwards.
There is ample talk that with a large transfer surplus needed to be generated that Inter will look to cash in on Lautaro. The striker has made previous noise of desiring to play in the Spanish game, and his knife-between-the-teeth style might match-up perfectly with Simeone’s Atletico.
Both players are expected to be key signings for Atletico, as they look to fight to retain their 2021 La Liga crown.
The Racing Club connection with Cholo Simeone
Interestingly, both players came through at Racing Club. The Argentina giants are the club of Simeone’s heart; a team whom he played for and coached twice. His first spell in charge was a failure, but he managed Racing to the title just before making his way back to Europe to coach Atleti. A diehard Racing fan, it is likely that Simeone knows both players well from their time in the academy at his former club.
While both would likely have been too young to have played for Simeone, or even met him when he was in charge, they will likely know who he is and revere him. A legend back home and a hero to Racing fans, Simeone might become the perfect catalyst for both players.
Martinez took his game to a new level when playing under Antonio Conte, a similarly high-energy, demanding manager of world class repute. Meanwhile, de Paul has yet to play for a truly top continental club and could see this next step as the ideal way to build his name within the game and cement a place for himself within the Argentine national side.