Champions League

Simeone can emulate Fergie

2015-02-24 08:23
Diego Simeone (Supplied)

Madrid - Atletico Madrid's players are hoping coach Diego Simeone can become the club's equivalent of Alex Ferguson, midfielder Tiago has said amid reports the Argentine is poised to sign a multi-year contract extension.

Simeone, who took over at the end of 2011, has a deal with the Spanish champions until June 2017, while Ferguson became the most successful British manager in history when he was in charge at Manchester United between 1986 and 2012.

Under the inspirational Simeone, Atletico have won the Europa League, the King's Cup and their first La Liga title in 18 years, while Ferguson's haul of silverware included 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions League crowns.

"We all know what Simeone means for the club and we want him to stay as long as possible," Tiago told a news conference ahead of Atletico's Champions League last 16, first leg at Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.

"We have seen what has been published in the media (about a contract extension) and we are very pleased," added the Portuguese.

"The talk is of five years but we would like it to be 10. But it's an issue for the boss and the club and we can't let it distract us. This is a very important part of the season."

Some of Atletico's wealthier rivals will be monitoring Simeone's contract talks and perhaps considering making a bid to lure the 44-year-old away from the Calderon.

A former Atletico and Argentina midfielder, Simeone has transformed the club from also-rans into Spanish champions ahead of vastly richer Spanish rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona and genuine contenders in Europe.

They pipped Real and Barca to the domestic league title last term and reached the final of Europe's elite club competition, where they lost to Real in extra time having coming within seconds of an historic victory.

Tiago said he and his team mates were ready to take on Leverkusen and had put this month's surprise La Liga reverse at Celta Vigo behind them.

"We have had time to prepare for this important phase of the competition," Tiago said.

"All the players are on top form and the squad is strong and prepared. Results are what count in football and hopefully we can show with results that we are all in good shape."

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