By 90Min
July 09, 2019

Atletico Madrid smashed their record transfer fee this summer, as they secured the £113m signing of highly sought-after Benfica wonderkid, Joao Felix.

The capture marked a significant moment in Spanish football, as Atleti flexed the kind of financial muscle which fans have become more accustomed to seeing from their La Liga rivals, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Whilst you can't forget that this deal will be largely financed by Antoine Griezmann's imminent departure to Barcelona, it is telling of Atleti's stature on the European stage that one of the world's most exciting talents sees his future at the Wanda Metropolitano.

On top of this, Diego Simeone recently added Alvaro Morata to his permanent attacking options - a player who will hope to strike up a fruitful relationship with Felix in the 2019/20 season and beyond.

The business conducted this summer is a testament to the job Simeone has done at the club. In the 27 seasons prior to the Argentine's arrival at Los Rojiblancos, Deportivo La Coruna were the only club to secure back-to-back top-two finishes in La Liga, excluding Real Madrid and Barca.

Considering Deportivo have been in decline in the years since their spell at the top, La Liga's duopoly-breakers have invariably been a result of one-off or unsustainable successes. Until now.

Simeone's side have broken into the top-two on three occasions in the last six seasons, finishing third in the other three campaigns. The business conducted by them so far this summer shows they are here to stay.

Their dealings in the transfer market are one of the main factors that have helped produce this extended period of success, and the summer of 2019 looks to be the perfect example of their ability to wheel and deal to maximise the output and the value of their prized assets.

AFP/GettyImages

Replacing a 28-year-old Griezmann with the 19-year-old Felix, with the value of both deals virtually cancelling each other out, is undeniably great business by the Madrid club.

Barring disaster, the Portuguese youngster, who has been likened to fellow countryman Cristiano Ronaldo, will retain his transfer value should Los Rojiblancos ever need or want to sell him.

Atleti's transfer prowess is not a new phenomenon of course, as they have bought and sold some of the world's best strikers in the 21st century. This relentless ability to produce and nurture attacking talent presumably played a huge role in convincing Felix to join.


Radamel Falcao - Bought for £36m in 2011, sold for £38.7m in 2013

Jackson Martinez - Bought for £33m in 2015, sold for £37m in 2016

Fernando Torres - Academy product, sold for £34m in 2007

Sergio Aguero - Bought for £19.5m in 2006, sold for £36m in 2011

Diego Costa - Bought for £1.35m in 2007, sold for £34m in 2014

Diego Forlan - Bought for £18m in 2007, sold for £4m in 2011


With the exception of Diego Forlan, who reached the twilight of his career whilst at Atletico, all of the above were sold for a profit - even when big fees had been spent to acquire them in the first place.

With all the might of La Blaugrana and Los Blancos, Spanish football could easily have become a boring, predictable two-horse race, where only two league games a season provided serious entertainment to neutrals.

It is fair to say that a huge part of the Premier League's success is down to the larger pool of clubs who are capable of winning the league. At present, the 'big six' all hold hopes of winning the title at the start of every season, albeit the chances of some teams are greater than others.

Mark Runnacles/GettyImages

Just north of the border, Scotland have struggled to keep their top league entertaining and marketable when it has been largely dominated by both the Glasgow giants. For many fans outside of Scotland, the Old Firm is the only match that will convince them to watch the SPL (granted, they play each other about 12 times a season).

Were it not for Atleti's perseverance, La Liga could have become much of the same. Barca and Madrid would become the Harlem Globetrotters of the league, attracting crowds wherever they go to see them contest exhibition-like affairs.

DANI POZO/GettyImages

Regardless of their allegiances, followers of Spanish football, and European football in general for that matter, must surely get behind Los Rojiblancos as they hold the key to the success of the La Liga, showing clubs outside of Barcelona and Real that the duopoly can indeed be broken.

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