Were Atletico Madrid ever close to pulling off the signing of the summer? [Feature]
It is a damning reflection of modern European football when fans scoff at the suggestion that one of Germany’s best footballers could end up with the La Liga champions as though a future in League One was mooted. But there are only a handful of teams that could meet the theoretical valuation of Marco Reus and Atletico Madrid don’t seem to have the resources to break transfer records.
It does not seem to be worth the trouble for Juan Gato to pathologically lie. Yet since he broke the exclusive news a few days ago that Marco Reus was heading to the Spanish capital, he’s been showered with mockery and abuse for such a sensationally bold claim.
There have been fellow journalists vouching for Gato, a sports writer for Spanish site Terra, the 31st most popular internet destination in the world. Esteemed Spanish football correspondent Graham Hunter called him a ‘reliable’ source when it comes to Atleti.
— Graham Hunter (@BumperGraham) August 15, 2014
Gato spilled the beans on Cadena COPE, it must have been hard to hold in a secret so massive. But he doesn’t appear to be too bothered about holding his tongue. While he turned a blind eye to many questioning his knowledge, he took sharp umbrage to one troll calling his sobriety into account. As you can see below, Gato didn’t mince his words.
However, his retort to Raphael Honigstein’s mockery was notably absent. The German football expert’s tweet was a little catty but nonetheless relevant. Klopp handing Reus the armband in a recent Borussia Dortmund game seriously undermined Gato’s scoop.
Reus starting as captain for Dortmund. Did nobody tell Jürgen Klopp he was sold to Atletico yesterday?
— Raphael Honigstein (@honigstein) August 16, 2014
But Gato gave the story in such great detail. He hadn’t heard a whisper or a murmur. He had details and depth in his story. He wrote: “The arrival of Marco Reus at Atletico Madrid approaches. It is imminent. The plan to make it official and announce it in the coming hours, after Ramón de Carranza Trophy is maintained, and, in principle, before the Spain Super Cup against Real Madrid.” The hours ticked by, but no confirmation from the club, no gathering word of his ‘imminent’ arrival.
Gato wrote that Atleti CEO Gil Marin promised Simeone he would bring Reus to the football club. It would only cost the club €25 million due to a release clause and Dortmund, resigned to selling the player, were happy to do business abroad rather than see Bayern pluck their resources for the umpteenth time. It was written that Oliver Torres, currently farmed out at Porto, would go to Dortmund next season.
However’s Gato last tweet was far less optimistic than the ones that he posted in the days before, accompanied by the hashtag #ReusRojiblanco. In this tweet he says, in so many words that Gil Marin has opted not to pursue the deal. Is it a double bluff? Or is Gato genuinely bringing us news of a change of heart from one of the parties? Perhaps there will be more developments in this deal.
No engaño a nadie. Estoy contando lo q pasa con Reus y pretenden q me calle. GilMarin presiona para q no siga. Lo siento voy hasta el final — Juan Gato (@J__Gato) August 18, 2014
Regardless of how much truth is in the story, the fact that it is Atletico Madrid attached surprised fans but shouldn’t have had the gasp-inducing effect it did.
Atletico Madrid continue to defy the odds. The anticipated next step for Marco Reus would be a club with the muscle of Barcelona or Real Madrid. Yet Diego Simeone’s side triumphed over both domestically last season. At the beginning of the summer, the champions were being raided and it seemed as though all their progress was undone. A club with a history of shaky finances, to put it kindly, weren’t expected to reinvest the cash received for Diego Costa, Filipe Luis and Adrian Lopez. The additional farewells to Thibaut Courtois, David Villa and, to a lesser extent, Diego Ribas and Jose Sosa left gaping holes in the squad.
Instead of accepting their fate, Simeone recruited replacements of the calibre of Mario Mandzuckic and Antoine Griezmann. He’s spent €14.5 million more than the club earned for nurturing the assets of impatient superclubs like Chelsea. All the while holding on to pivotal figures like Miranda, Juanfran, Diego Godin, Koke, Gabi and Arda Turan. They will remain a unit that teams dread to face in the coming season. But they’d be even more fearsome with a game-changer like Marco Reus in the side.