It is no easy feat being the new striker at Atletico Madrid. Inevitable comparisons will always be made with the long history of prolific world class strikers Atletico has boasted. It will be no different for David Villa, who has joined from Barcelona this transfer window. Strikers including Torres, Aguero and Falcao; each one a world class superstar. Lets take a look at Atletico’s lush history of strikers and how they have fared, including the net profit Atletico has made from their sales and how Villa will fair in comparison.
Vieri and Hasselbaink:
Lets do this chronologically, starting with Vieri and Hasselbaink. Both these players only played one season for Atletico, or more commonly known in spain as Los Colchoneros (The Mattress Makers) and Los Rojiblancos (The Red and Whites). Vieri joined from Juventus in the 98/99 season for 13.2 million pounds and he netted an incredibly impressive 29 goals in just 32 games. Next season he was sold to Lazio for a profit of 8.8 mil and replaced with Hasselbaink who arrived from Leeds United for 14.7 mil. Clearly Atletico were not afraid to spend, keeping in mind these are relatively large sums of money in the 90’s. Hasselbaink did remarkably well, netting 35 times in 47 games, in a relativley weak Atletico side which ended the season in the second division of Spanish football. Athletico could not hold on to the prolific striker as he was sold to Chelsea for a profit of 5 mil. This tactic of expensive but smart buys had served Athletico remarkably well as both these players contributed fully to the team and later sold for profit.
The tactics at Atletico started to shift and they were looking at a young talented Spaniard rising through their ranks; Fernando Torres. El Nino hit 91 goals for the capital club as they returned to the top flight and regained their place among the elite in Spain. Spending 7 years in the red and white, Torres was the poster boy and the fan favorite. He started to create a lot of buzz around him and finally Liverpool came knocking with an offer Atletico could not refuse. He was sold for a Staggering profit of 33.4 million pounds.
In 2006, a year before Torres left, Kun Aguero, aged only 18, had arrived at the club from the Argentinian league. A big round of applause for the scouting team of Atletico on this one. They were absolutely confident of his talents and abilities that they splashed out 19 million pounds for his services. He instantly formed a menacing strike force with Torres and they were a joy to watch as one of the most exciting strike force in Europe. Aguero netted 101 goals for the club in a period that lasted 5 years and in 2011 was sold to Man City for a profit of 20.9 mil.
Forlan was the man to replace Torres in 2007 and strike a 3 year partnership with Aguero. Very different players and different circumstances to create a perfect team. Aguero was the youngster making all the energetic runs, the brawn if you will, while Forlan, at an experienced age of 28, was definitely the brains. Joining for 18.4 mil from Villareal, he netted 96 times for the club and was later sold in 2011 for 4.4 mil at the old age of 32 with Atletico making a calculated loss of 14 mil.
With both Aguero and Forlan leaving at in 2011, Athletico had to make a huge signing to replace their imminent non existent strike force. Atletico went all out and bought Falcao from Porto for an astonishing 41.5 million pounds. I recall at the time newspaper headlines going crazy at how foolish of a buy this was and the crippling effect it will have on Atletico’s finances. Falcao came in and started to eclipse his predecessors almost immediately. He may not have the same fan love as Aguero and Toress due to his short lived time at the club but his contributions are second to non. With the highest goal scoring ratio in recent times for of 0.79, he cemented himself as a world class player and even being mentioned as the third best player in the world. A successful run from 2011 to 2013 saw his stock rise dramatically with all major European clubs chasing his signature. In the end, a heavily criticized move to AS Monaco ensued for the huge sum of 52.8 mil. A profit of 11 mil made on a player bought for 41 mil!
Below is a summary of the aforementioned strikers’ contributions, which returned a total of 420 goals and a net profit of 65.1 million pounds:
Best of the bunch:
For me, Fernando Torres is the striker that had served Atletico the best. He was a clear fan favorite and a constant thorn in Real Madrid’s side. A youngster coming through the ranks from the youth side always has its own sweet taste for the fans and it creates a special bond between fans and player from a loyalty point of view. Having served Atletico for a long 7 years and scoring 91 goals, he was a success on the pitch.
Off the pitch, finances are a very important factor in modern day football. If you can reap both the performances as well as the finances from a single player then you have hit gold. The fact that Torres was sold for a profit of 33 mil pounds also adds to his value to Athletico and makes him the most successful attacker in their modern history.
Let us know who you think is the striker that served Atletico best:
Following the controversial departure of Falcao to Monaco this summer, Atletico once again found themselves lacking a world class striker. Many were expecting the continuation of the trend, where Atletico would use a large fraction of Falcao’s transfer fee to finance a move for a potential world class striker. Instead, they signed David Villa from Barcelona for 1.8 million pounds. If this signing was made a few years earlier, it would have seamlessly fit in with the club’s trend of prolific strikers replacing one another. However, at the twilight of his career at the age of 31, Villa can’t be expected to fill that role and another signing is needed to recreate the experienced-youngster partnership we saw with Forlan and Aguero. Villa’s lethal finishing abilities coupled with the proper service and help of his teammates might just be enough to act as a stopgap and carry Atletico for a season or two until their next expected marquee signing. Till then, Villa must take this chance to regain his world class form with an uninterrupted run of games which he will be guaranteed to get more of here than at Barcelona bar any long term injuries. Also keeping in mind that his spot in the Spanish national team is no longer guaranteed with Soldado, Negredo, Torres and even Fabregas all fighting for the same position. Lets hope we see the David Villa of old and enjoy his last couple of seasons at the top flight.