A shortened contract. That’s all it took to alert every major club in need of a managerial change that former Argentine star and current Atletico Madrid manager would be leaving at the end of his contract in the summer of 2018. It makes sense and is the best move for his career at this point. For all he has done for Atletico, he must see what many think. He has carried this team as far as he can. His success doesn’t preclude him from leaving. Football supporters and those involved with the game must understand this.
His tenure has been a highly successful and nigh on great one to this point but it’s time. He perhaps saw the light after the disappointment of losing in the Champions league final again to Real Madrid. He’s traded blows with the two heavyweights of Spanish and world football and held his own. However, he has nothing left to prove in this challenge.
True, a maiden Champions league for Atletico would cap his tenure and the lack of one might be a regret when he looks back in ten years’ time but his marketability is higher than it has ever been and his age is perhaps the right one to move on. Two finals appearances without a winner’s medal must sting and although a bitter disappointment, it must be seen as a catalyst for him to cut the cord. He is seen as Atletico Madrid itself, the embodiment and soul of a club that is seen by many to have punched above its weight both domestically and in Europe. His achievements include a La Liga title (2013/14) in an era of particular strength for both Barcelona and Real Madrid who boast teams that can almost combine for a World 11, a Copa Del Rey in 2012/13, a Europa League (2011/12), a Super Cup (2012), and those two Champions league heartbreaks in 2013/14 and just last season, both at the hands of Real Madrid. That is enough. It has already passed. Now that he has the choice of clubs of high stature who may be seeking a new manager he should leave.
The question is, where would he end up?
Options, but Italy?
He has already stated his desire to return to Italy – where he played for both Inter Milan and Lazio – then return to Argentina. That is nice and his loyalty is to be admired but this move doesn’t happen. Not now. His stock is too high for Italy at this point in time and with the recent appointment of highly touted former Ajax manager Frank De Boer, it could be some time before that position becomes a cause for concern for the decorated club. De Boer resigned after the disappointment of losing the title on the final day of the season but his stock would have been high given his age and record to date. Inter have made a good start to the campaign and sit third after six games so there is no immediate panic. Eighteen months is an eternity in football management so anything can happen over in Milan. Still, it will likely be a move that happens in a matter of years or a decade but there is another job out there that might interest him.
What about Arsenal?
Now, his style doesn’t fit the Arsenal way, or rather, the Arsene Wenger way. But the man is a proven manager and England would present a new and exciting challenge in a league already stacked with managers. It’s good to note that Jose Mourinho doesn’t fit the Manchester United mould, or rather the Sir Alex Ferguson mould. But those days are past and Simeone will undoubtedly be a prime candidate if Wenger does in fact call time on his marathon at Arsenal. Maybe he can be the man to add the mental steel that has been said to be missing by many, at times comically so, to a talented bunch of players. The timing is slightly off since Wenger could likely leave at the end of this season while Simeone is one year away at least. However, if the right parties are determined to make it happen, it will happen; and yes, Arsene could stay on another year and prepare the club for the transition whilst having another go at two notoriously elusive titles.
Another potential spanner in those works will be his English which is felt by the man himself to still pose an issue in terms of his communication after two years of slow progress learning the language. Communication improved for Roberto Mancini, incidentally De Boer’s predecessor at Inter. There are many ifs in that equation but it is one to watch as things develop. Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe is being tipped by English Press as the man but it might be another David Moyes deer-in-the-headlights situation if the man takes on such a big and challenging job (for near unique reasons). Taking over for a legend is never easy and Simeone could go and show how it’s done.
Playing style? That is one more consideration but trophies and profile may take precedent when the decision is finally made.
France is not a proposition that fits for a man that looks to love a challenge and has the personality that the English media would gobble up in a league, again, filled with personalities for managers. Another repercussion if he does in fact leave is Antoine Griezmann’s possible departure. He is being tipped to be a Manchester United player if in fact he does follow his manager out the door in Madrid and he has stated that the only way he does leave is if Simeone leaves. Does he then become the striker that Arsenal crave? Let’s just say he has been a person of interest.
Sure, all this is a way away but this is sure to be a hot topic when his contract expires and when Arsenal put a wrap on their season. It might not be Arsenal, but go Diego! Go and explore.