International

Atletico upbeat despite departures

2015-07-08 15:32
Gabi (Getty Images)
Gabi (Getty Images)

Madrid - Atletico Madrid expect to be competitive next season despite the exit of playmaker Arda Turan and striker Mario Mandzukic thanks to new arrivals like Jackson Martinez and Luciano Vietto, captain Gabi said on Wednesday.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone faces another rebuilding job after Turkey captain Arda joined Spanish and European champions Barcelona and Croatia international Mandzukic left for Italian champions Juventus.

Striker Martinez, a Colombia international, is poised to arrive from Porto, while Argentine forward Vietto has left Villarreal to join up again with Simeone, who gave him his professional debut at Racing Club as a 17-year-old.

After the heights of 2013-14, when they won their first La Liga title in 18 years and reached the final of the Champions League, Atletico managed a respectable 2014-15 season despite the departure of top scorer Diego Costa and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, among others.

They finished third in La Liga and made it to the last eight of Europe's elite club competition, where they lost 1-0 on aggregate to Real Madrid, who beat them in the 2014 final.

"The club and the squad have always had the power and the strength to reinvent themselves season after season," Gabi said as the players returned to training after their summer break.

"It's true that important players are leaving but those who are coming in are performing very well and we expect to compete this year as we have been doing," added the midfielder.

Gabi said the return of playmaker Oliver Torres from a season-long loan spell at Porto was also reason for optimism.

The 20-year-old is considered one of the most gifted attacking midfielders of his generation and could provide the creative spark Atletico will lose with Arda's departure.

"He (Torres) is a very important player for the club," Gabi said. "He has improved as a player. Last year it was right for him to leave to get playing time and this season he will be key for us."

La Liga is due to begin the weekend of Aug. 22/23, with the calendar set to be drawn on Tuesday.

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