Five Atletico Madrid legends signed for bargain prices

Few managers in European football have managed more legends than Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid.

A winner of eight major trophies with Atletico, Simeone has transformed the fortunes of the Colchoneros during his 11-year stint.

Leading the club to their first league title in 18 years during the 2013/14 campaign, Simeone made it two La Liga titles last season.

However, his savvy in the transfer market goes under the radar.

Although not all of these players were recruited by Simeone, the Argentine coach was instrumental in developing them into the talents they became.

From world-class strikers to World Cup winners, here are five Atletico Madrid legends signed for bargain prices.

5) Rodri

Whilst he may have only spent one season with the club, Atletico pocketed a healthy €45 million profit from Rodri’s transfer. A youth team player with the La Liga side, Rodri returned to Atletico after a five-year stint with Villarreal.

The midfielder made his debut in the 2018 Super Cup win over Real Madrid, tasting success straight away.

Rodri featured in 34 of the 38 La Liga matches that season, establishing himself as one of Europe’s best midfielders. No sooner had he returned to Madrid, he was out the door again. Signing for Manchester City one year after joining, Atletico sold the holding midfielder for €67 million in July 2019.

4) Antoine Griezmann

Signing a six-year deal in July 2014, Antoine Griezmann swapped fellow La Liga side Real Sociedad for Atletico in a deal worth €30 million. Notching up 22 goals during his debut season with the club, Griezmann quickly impressed the crowds in Madrid. The French international would match his goals tally in the next campaign, leading Atletico to the Champions League final.

It wasn’t to be for Griezmann and Atletico, who slumped to yet another final defeat against rivals Real Madrid. He would enjoy European glory with the club, lifting the 2018 Europa League in his native France. After winning the World Cup that following summer, Barcelona stumped up €120 million for Griezmann just one year later.

3) Diego Costa

Initially arriving at Atletico for €1.5 million in 2007, Diego Costa was sold to Real Valladolid in 2009, before returning to Simeone’s squad a year later. Whilst he struggled to dislodge Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan from the side, Costa would eventually receive his chance.

Netting 27 goals during Atletico’s 2013/14 title win, Costa went to Chelsea for €38 million in July 2014. After lifting two Premier League titles there, the Spanish international made a sensational return to Atletico. Joining once again in 2018, Costa’s second spell wasn’t as much of a fairytale as the first.

Read: Diego Costa claims he’d tackle his own Mother if it meant winning

2) Gabi

A product of the Atletico academy, Gabi joined Real Zaragoza for €9 million in 2007 before returning to the Vicente Calderon Stadium for €3 million just four years later. Racking up 239 appearances during his second spell, Gabi was part of the side that won La Liga in 2013/14.

Lifting six major trophies during his time with Simeone, Gabi sits sixth in the list of all-time Atletico appearances. The beating heart of the Atletico midfield, the Spaniard’s service proved invaluable throughout Atletico’s ‘Golden Era.’

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1) Diego Godin

Diego Godin was a mainstay for much of the Argentine manager’s time in charge, personifying a Simeone side. A tough defender, Godin arrived in 2010 from Villarreal for just €9 million. Netting the goal that eventually won Atletico the 2013/14 title, Godin is considered one of the club’s greatest players of all time.

Rejecting a move to Manchester City in 2015, Godin featured in the ill-fated 2015/16 Champions League final defeat. He would enjoy some reprieve by lifting the Europa League two seasons later, a rock at the back for Simeone. Godin left Atletico in 2019, joining Inter Milan on a free transfer.