Atletico Madrid's new Portuguese midfielder Joao Felix holds his new jersey during his official presentation at the Wanda Metropolitan stadium in Madrid on July 8, 2019. (PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP)
MADRID - After two seasons finishing second in the Liga Santander behind FC Barcelona, Atletico Madrid fans will be asking whether this season they can go one better after a summer of important changes to their squad.
The end of last season saw several key players leave Atletico as defensive leader Diego Godin decided to join Inter Milan, France international Lucas Hernandez signed Bayern Munich, Rodrigo Hernandez moved to Manchester City, while Antoine Griezmann signed for FC Barcelona and Felipe Luis and Juanfran also left the club.
Most sides would struggle after losing players such as Rodri, Hernandez, Godin and Griezmann, but Atletico have been almost as busy bringing players in and it looks as if they have done a good job
Most sides would struggle after losing players such as Rodri, Hernandez, Godin and Griezmann, but Atletico have been almost as busy bringing players in and it looks as if they have done a good job.
The big name arrival is 19-year-old Portuguese forward Joao Felix and while most will be surprised at the 120 million euro fee, the youngster's performances in pre-season imply that Atletico have signed a special talent, who could be one of the big names in the game over the coming years.
Meanwhile Marcos Llorente moves across town from Real Madrid and will provide control in central midfield, as will Mexican international Hector Herrera.
Spain international Mario Hermoso and experienced Brazilian, Felipe Augusto have come in to accompany Jose Gimenez and Stefan Savic in central defense, while England international Kieran Trippier looks to be a bargain right back at just 20 million euros (US$24 million).
Trippier is a solid defender, who gets forward well and his delivery from set pieces will be important over the coming months.
The other good news is that Diego Costa has also looked to be coming back to his best over the summer after cutting an unhappy figure for most of last season. If the rampaging physical Costa is back and Joao Felipe is the real deal, then Atletico may not notice Griezmann's departure too much.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone has been at the club since the end of 2011 and has imposed his rock-solid defensive style on to great effect, although pre-season signs have hinted that this season he may be open to a more attacking approach.
That would certainly suit the style of some of Atletico's midfielders with Koke, effective in the opposition half, while Saul Rodriguez continues to offer a combination of defensive discipline and an ability to score important goals. Finally Thomas Partey might finally get the chance to exploit his qualities as a box-to-box midfielder.
Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa celebrates after scoring his third goal during the 2019 International Champions Cup football match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at the Metlife Stadium Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey on July 26, 2019. (JOHANNES EISELE / AFP)
The new-look Atletico certainly left their mark on Real Madrid, imposing a 7-3 humiliation on their local rivals in New York what looks like an early declaration of intent from Simeone and company.
Perhaps last season the fact the Champions League final was played in their Wanda Metropolitano Stadium could have been a distraction for Atletico until they were knocked out of the tournament by Juventus in the last 16, although Atletico will give everything in Europe once again, perhaps this season will see them focus more on the league.
The new defenders will need to bed in quickly, but Atletico got most of their shopping done early in the summer and that will help and if Joao Felipe really is as good as he has looked so far, the coming months could see plenty of celebrating in the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
Atletico Madrid's head coach Diego Simeone reacts during the International Champions Cup football match between Atletico Madrid v Juventus on Aug 10, 2019 in Solna outside Stockholm, Sweden. (JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP)
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