Jan Oblak is an Atletico Madrid player "period" and the best is still to come from Joao Felix, says Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo. 

The future of Oblak has been the subject of speculation with Premier League clubs Manchester United and Chelsea linked with a big-money move for the goalkeeper. 

Chelsea have already splashed out to sign Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner, while Kai Havertz is rumoured to be close to joining too.  

The Blues are said to be looking for a new goalkeeper after a disappointing campaign for Kepa Arrizabalaga, while David de Gea's own form at United has come under increased scrutiny. 

Oblak, who saw his four-season stranglehold on the Zamora Trophy - awarded to the best goalkeeper in LaLiga - ended by Thibaut Courtois, has proven himself as one of the best in the world over six years at Atleti. 

Cerezo is adamant the Slovenia international will stay at the Wanda Metropolitano, even when it was pointed out he once made similar assurances about Antoine Griezmann, who moved to Barcelona.

"I always say that Oblak has a contract with Atletico and is the best goalkeeper in the world. It is not strange that he has offers from other great teams," he told Marca. 

"I say the same as always. Oblak has a contract, he is an Atletico player, period. We have many players, our squad is the club's main asset. Oblak is a magnificent player and in his position, unquestionably, there is no one to beat him right now. 

"For me, Oblak - and I speak as an amateur - is the best goalkeeper in the world. Regarding Courtois, he is another great goalkeeper of those in the world and fortunately, both have played for us and with both we have been champions in many trophies." 

Cerezo also discussed the debut campaign of Joao Felix, who arrived in a €126million deal from Benfica last July as a replacement for Griezmann. 

The Portugal forward was one of the most sought-after prospects in world football but scored just six goals and contributed one assist in 27 LaLiga appearances. 

Cerezo remains convinced the 20-year-old will achieve his undoubted promise and believes Joao Felix will particularly relish competing in the delayed Champions League, which will be played as a straight knockout tournament in Lisbon from the quarter-final stage. 

"It was not easy for him because it was the first season, he came with wonderful expectations and I think he has really met it," Cerezo added.  

"We are all happy with Joao Felix's performance. I think for next season it will not be a promise, it will be a fact. I hope that in these Champions League games, it really highlights how great a footballer he is. 

"I think he is very excited and happy that it will be played in Lisbon. You have to think that he is 20 years old, he is a player with a promising future and that we are indisputably proud to have signed him."

Diego Simeone's men will be expected to overcome RB Leipzig in the last eight but Cerezo, who saw Atleti defeat holders Liverpool in the previous round, warned there is no "logic" in football. 

"According to what they say, the one that beats the European champion is the champion and we have eliminated them. Logically, we should be champions," Cerezo said. 

"Everyone is happy with Leipzig, I think it has been a good result of the tournament and we can undoubtedly be in the semi-finals, but from what I say to what happens there is a difference either for or against.  

"I think by logic we have to be there, but who has logic in football?" 

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone acknowledged it will be a challenge for his side to overcome LaLiga "monsters" Real Madrid and Barcelona next season.

Simeone's side rounded off their domestic campaign with a 1-1 draw against Real Sociedad on Sunday which secured third place in the table.

Atleti, however, finished 12 points behind second-placed Barcelona and 17 adrift of LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

Simeone was under pressure earlier in the season before an unbeaten run from February ensured they secured a top-four finish.

"Year after year the responsibility grows and the demand also," Simeone said in a media conference after the game against Sociedad at the Wanda Metropolitano.

"The criticism is a consequence of what the team can give and what others can imagine is possible.

"I think we compete very well against teams like Sociedad, Getafe, Sevilla. And then there are two monsters such as Barcelona and Real Madrid."

Simeone believes regular Champions League football is essential to any hopes of breaking the stranglehold on LaLiga.

He continued: "We compete with two teams who must win the Champions League, LaLiga, Super Cup … so we are always looking for our own space and place, and we will keep going until we have our own chance.

"This season it is objective accomplished. I understand since I arrived the needs of the club that it is to be in the Champions League. I feel more a responsibility.

"For this we need regularity, in order to have important players and stability.

"With all the changes to the team it is strong. It looks competitive and I am glad that there will not be so many changes for next season because we have an important squad."

Simeone's players will now turn their attention to next month's Champions League, where they will meet Bundesliga side RB Leipzig in the quarter-finals.

They head into the mini tournament in Lisbon having not tasted defeat since the restart.

Atleti captain Koke, who scored in their 1-1 draw with Sociedad, claimed his team-mates have the belief to finally end their European Cup hoodoo.

"We are going to think of Leipzig as if it were the final. We are very excited and eager for it," he said.

"We have a very good streak of form at the moment and hopefully it will continue in the Champions League and we can win it."

Adnan Januzaj's 87th-minute equaliser saw Real Sociedad fight back for a draw 1-1 at Atletico Madrid that secured a place in next season's Europa League.

Atleti looked on course for victory in their concluding LaLiga fixture at the Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday after Koke's close-range finish in the first half.

But Januzaj's curling free-kick late on went through a crowded box and found a way past the otherwise superb Jan Oblak.

The point was enough for Atleti to claim third place in LaLiga but Sociedad were the happier of the two sides as they finished in sixth spot, when defeat would have left them without European football.

Diego Simeone has a clear vision on how Atletico Madrid can make upgrades during the upcoming transfer window. 

Atleti were unable to mount a title challenge this term but have guaranteed a top-four finish in LaLiga, meaning a place in next season's Champions League. 

While Simeone does not anticipate any major transfers taking place ahead of the 2020-21 season due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, he already knows what new additions he wants at the Wanda Metropolitano. 

"We continually talk to Miguel [Angel Gil, CEO] and Andrea [Berta, sporting director] about what we need and what expectations we have," said Simeone. 

"We are clear about what we will seek. We have a growing team, new people who will serve as a base for the next season. 

"In this transfer window, where surely there will be no big moves, the one that gets a solid, strong base and can keep competing from one year to the next is the one that will continue to be in the fight for all competitions." 

Atleti are unbeaten in 17 games in all competitions and have won seven of their 10 outings since LaLiga resumed in June. 

Their final domestic fixture before a Champions League quarter-final against RB Leipzig comes against Real Sociedad on Sunday. 

Asked if his squad is in the best shape it has been all season, Simeone said: "When the team wins the coach is very good, and when they lose he is very bad. When players are injured, the fault lies with the doctor and the coaches.

"The team prepared very well in quarantine. We came back in the best way, we were able to rotate in almost every game, especially at the beginning we changed six or seven players each game.

"Later we reduced the rotations because the players were able to respond to the demand, both when they were starters and when they came off the bench."

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone claimed his side's determination to churn out results to secure a LaLiga top-four finish during a season of upheaval augurs well for the future.

Simeone's side are on course to finish third in LaLiga after goals from Marcos Llorente and Thomas Partey secured a 2-0 victory over Getafe in their penultimate league game of the season on Thursday.

It left Atleti two points clear of fourth-placed Sevilla – who drew 0-0 with Real Sociedad – and with a superior goal difference.

Simeone's side conclude their LaLiga campaign with a home match against Sociedad before their attention switches to the Champions League.

Atleti have a quarter-final match with RB Leipzig which will be played as a single-leg tie in Lisbon in August as part of a mini tournament to finish the competition.

It has been an impressive turnaround for Atleti and Simeone, who was under pressure earlier in the season but has now seen his side go 15 games unbeaten in LaLiga.

"There were many changes this year," Simeone said in a post-match media conference after the win over Getafe.

"Senior players left and new players came. In defence, for example. Periods of difficulty pass, but the team after the victory in Liverpool and the work since starting again has improved us.

"Being in the top four is important and a necessity for the club to continue growing.

"Is this a good signal for the Champions League? After the quarantine, except for the game against Real Betis and the first minutes against Getafe, the team has had work and a willingness to reach these good results."

Simeone started Diego Costa ahead of Alvaro Morata in attack against Getafe, with Llorente continuing in a playmaker role in behind.

And the Argentinian acknowledged the impressive displays of Llorente have made it difficult for his two leading strikers.

"Marcos has physical strength and danger with an assist, and with a goal. He is a boy to whom nobody gave anything and earns it day by day," added the Atleti coach.

"Costa has been through bad times and it is complex for the coach because Morata scores goals and whoever of the two is left out will be angry. 

"I have to guess the one that suits us in every game and maybe they are getting closer to being able to play together."

Marcos Llorente and Thomas Partey gave Atletico Madrid a 2-0 win over Getafe on Thursday to keep Diego Simeone's side on course for a third-place finish in LaLiga.

Getafe squandered a number of chances in the first half before Llorente struck eight minutes after the break with a fine finish from 20 yards.

Partey added a second goal when he tapped in from close range after a counterattack with 10 minutes left.

Getafe had Allan Nyom sent off late on for a high challenge as the defeat dented their bid to secure a Europa League place.

Atleti coach Diego Simeone made six changes to his side as Diego Costa and Yannick Carrasco were both recalled to the starting line-up.

With an entirely new back four, Atleti's defence looked vulnerable and they were fortunate not to be behind at the break after an impressive first-half display from Getafe.

Jaime Mata had three good chances in quick succession early on as he lifted a shot over the bar, saw an effort hooked off the line by Felipe and miscued a close-range shot.

Atleti's best opportunity before the interval fell to Costa after he got on the end of Llorente's cross, but the striker could only guide his header over the crossbar.

The same combination linked up again three minutes into the second half, but Costa failed to hit the target from a central position following Llorente's cut back.

Llorente took matters into his own hands shortly afterwards when he smartly turned Getafe's David Timor on the edge of the box then wrong-footed goalkeeper David Soria with a low shot into the corner.

Partey made the points safe when he confidently guided the ball home after Getafe were caught on the break, and the home side then saw Nyom sent off in stoppage time.

 

 

What does it mean? Atletico edge closer to third

With Champions League football already assured for both, Atleti are jostling with Sevilla to finish in third spot.

This victory gave Simeone's side a two-point cushion over Sevilla – who drew 0-0 at Real Sociedad – meaning they are well-placed to achieve their target.

Getafe are clinging on to the final Europa League spot in LaLiga after this defeat.

Llorente stars up front

Originally a bustling central midfielder, the former Real Madrid man has been reinvented as a versatile attacker by Simeone, and he oozed class against Getafe. Llorente was Atleti's most creative player with intelligent movement and capped a fine display with a well-taken goal.

Mata fails to make his mark

The Getafe striker escaped the attentions of Atleti's defence and frequently found himself in dangerous goalscoring positions, but all too often his poor finishing or a lapse in concentration let him down at the key moment.

What's next?

Atleti host Real Sociedad in their final LaLiga fixture of the season on Sunday, while Getafe travel to Levante.

 

Diego Simeone is not surprised by rumoured interest in Jan Oblak but hopes the goalkeeper will remain at Atletico Madrid.

Oblak has been named best keeper in LaLiga for the previous four seasons and has only conceded 26 goals in 36 games in the current campaign, helping Atleti once again clinch a top-four finish.

Chelsea are reported to be interested in the 27-year-old Slovenian, with speculation suggesting they could look to involve Kepa Arrizabalaga in player-plus-cash deal.

Simeone has become accustomed to rumours over the future of key players in his squad, however, as was the case previously in the Antoine Griezmann transfer saga before he eventually joined domestic rivals Barcelona.

"It does not surprise me, every year our most important players are wanted by the best in the world," the Atletico boss told the media ahead of Thursday's game with Getafe.

"It is normal to always look for the best – and we have many. Some have left and others have stayed.

"It is logical and normal that anyone wants Oblak. He is our captain and an important player. I hope we can count on his work, which is enormous for Atleti."

When asked again about Oblak's future at Atletico during the media call, Simeone replied: "I repeat the same thing: it is normal that they want a goalkeeper of his characteristics and value.

"It does not surprise me. He is decisive and important in the dressing room year after year. He has evolved in every way, as a goalkeeper and within the group."

Oblak has been integral in helping Atletico's nine-match unbeaten run since the resumption of the season in Spain.

The impressive streak – which includes a 2-2 draw away to second-place Barcelona – has secured Champions League football again for next season, while they still remain in the running to win this year's competition after knocking out holders Liverpool in the last 16.

For Simeone, qualification is crucial for Atleti's development both on and off the field.

"It's our responsibility to qualify, always looking at the growth that the club has from this possibility that we generate by qualifying year after year," he said.

"That's how the club grows in every aspect, so it is a responsibility, an objective to be met, which is not easy always to do in life.

"We all have objectives, in any type of job. I have the luck, the work ethic and the perseverance to qualify every year and allow the club to grow and improve. When the goals are met it is normal for the club to grow."

Diego Simeone is looking for improvement from Atletico Madrid despite securing Champions League qualification once more.

A 74th-minute goal from Diego Costa saw 10-man Atletico overcome Real Betis 1-0 on Saturday to qualify for the Champions League for an eighth straight season.

Atletico had only played in Europe's top club competitions eight times in total before qualifying for the 2013-14 Champions League.

But head coach Simeone is refusing to rest, eager for Atletico to continue growing.

"I don't stop to analyse what is being done," he told a news conference, via AS.

"We always seek to improve and grow and the only way is to give the club the possibility with our work on the field that they can manage the tremendous growth of the club in these years.

"If there was a moment to qualify for the Champions League as it was, it was what happened in the match, because this is us.

"They hit us and we got up and we always compete and we will continue to compete, having all the energy so that all four legs – fans, players, coach and club – we stay firm.

"This is Atletico Madrid and I think that in the second half when it seemed that everything was going to suffer, we won."

Costa's winner came 17 minutes after Atletico were reduced to 10 men when Mario Hermoso was sent off.

Atletico are on a 16-match unbeaten run ahead of visiting Getafe on Thursday.

Diego Costa denied that his goal in Atletico Madrid's 1-0 victory over Real Betis was scored with the assistance of his arm.

Atleti secured the win they needed to clinch a top-four finish in LaLiga on Saturday, despite playing over half an hour with 10 men following Mario Hermoso's straight red card for a foul on Loren Moron.

Costa was sent on as one of a trio of attacking changes just before Hermoso's dismissal and, after Diego Simeone's side absorbed some late pressure, he guided Yannick Carrasco's free-kick into the bottom-right corner to seal the three points.

Betis defender Marc Bartra played Costa onside but a lengthy VAR check was conducted to see whether the Atleti striker had used his arm in the process of scoring.

The replays appeared inconclusive and the goal was allowed to stand, unlike first-half efforts for Angel Correa and Alvaro Morata that were chalked off with video assistance.

"It would be one thing if they called it offside for my goal but it didn't come off my arm. I'm very clear it wasn't [handball] and I'm happy," Costa told Movistar.

"It was a difficult game after Mario's red card. Our goal was to finish in the top four. Now we have that and we've got two more games we have to try to win to continue our good form.

"I think it was a good sign that we scored from a set-piece. We were in control. What happened in the second half made it more difficult, but we had a bit of luck and got the win.

"I don't know why we always have to suffer like this, but we always suffer and win. If we don't suffer, we don't feel right, so we're happy and we'll look for more glory."

Referee Jose Luis Gonzalez Gonzalez maintained his decision to dismiss Hermoso after a trip to the pitchside monitor, but Costa felt a booking would also have been a fair punishment.

"If they'd given a yellow card for Mario Hermoso then fine. I think it was on the limit and in the end the referee has to make the decision, but I think a yellow or red was fair," he said.

Guido Rodriguez disagreed with Costa's assessment of the goal, claiming the ball clearly struck the attacker's arm.

"We saw that when Costa scored it touched his arm, but they didn't make that decision, so that's how it was," the Betis midfielder said.

"We played with a player more, looking for the goal, but we leave pretty annoyed because we couldn't get it."

Diego Costa guaranteed 10-man Atletico Madrid's place in next season's Champions League by heading home the winner in a 1-0 LaLiga victory over Real Betis.

Atleti looked destined to hold on for at most a draw after Mario Hermoso was shown a straight red card for a foul on Loren Moron, but substitute Costa steered home Yannick Carrasco's free-kick in the 74th minute to secure a top-four finish for Diego Simeone's men.

After seeing goals for Angel Correa and Alvaro Morata overturned by VAR, there were concerns Costa's header would be ruled out during a lengthy check for handball.

However, the goal was allowed to stand, ensuring Atleti will return to European football's top table in 2020-21.

 

Diego Simeone is not thinking about resting his Atletico Madrid stars ahead of the return of the Champions League.

Atleti were pitted against RB Leipzig in the quarter-final draw on Friday, with the winner of that game taking on Atalanta or Paris Saint-Germain in the last four of the mini-tournament that will be hosted in Lisbon next month.

Simeone's side will secure a top-four finish in LaLiga if they defeat Real Betis on Saturday - with three games remaining they sit six points clear of Villarreal, whom they hold the upper hand over in the head-to-head record.

Despite being so close to guaranteeing a return to the Champions League next season, the Atleti boss is not considering rotating his players.

"Every time we select a line-up, we do so thinking of winning the game. Tomorrow [Saturday] will be no exception," Simeone told the media on Friday.

"It will be a very important game. It is a game which can give us the access to next season's Champions League, which is what we really want and have been looking for and working towards for a long time.

"We will try to be at our best in the game; looking at the training today in order to know who are best for tomorrow's game, which is the most important. And after, we will try to put that in the pitch, the only useful thing."

Having knocked out defending champions Liverpool in the Champions League last-16 and landed in the kinder half of the draw for the final stages, Atletico are considered strong candidates to go all the way.

Simeone does not see it that way, though, pointing to the threat Leipzig pose.

"They are always the same people who either exaggerate or discredit you. As I am trying to escape from extremes, I will only say what I said already after the draw," the Atleti boss said.

"We are going to face a good team with quick attacking players. A team that scores many goals and finished a great season in Germany."

Alvaro Morata said Atletico Madrid are closing in on their LaLiga objective as they eye the Champions League.

Atletico are on course to qualify for next season's Champions League following Tuesday's 1-1 draw at Celta Vigo.

Morata scored the fastest goal of the LaLiga season after just 51 seconds at Estadio de Balaidos, where Fran Beltran equalised early in the second half.

Atletico are unbeaten in 15 games and third in the table, three points clear of Sevilla and nine ahead of Villarreal – who both have four matches remaining.

Morata is Atletico's leading goalscorer in LaLiga this term with 11 but the forward is focused on the team's goals, with the Spanish capital club already through to the Champions League quarter-finals prior to the coronavirus-enforced break.

"It doesn't matter [about being top goalscorer], this is a team, you have to keep going and close your goals in the league," Morata told Movistar.

"And then put your head in the Champions League."

Morata added: "It is a very difficult field to play at. They are a team that play very well. The place they are on the table with the football they produce is not understood. 

"The match was even. Fran with that goal has taken us out of the game. The important thing is that since we have returned we are in good spirits."

Atletico have not lost a game since February's 1-0 defeat to city rivals Real Madrid, while they have recorded 15 draws in 35 LaLiga fixtures this season.

"We come with significant tension and pressure, with the need to run to get to the place where we want to be," head coach Diego Simeone replied when asked about the number of draws.

"In every race it is normal that there is a feeling of less than elsewhere. But in the first half there was important moments and the team did what it had to do. Ties exist as there are triumphs, defeat and the rival who also competes."

Real Madrid get more penalties than other teams because they attack more, according to Atletico Madrid boss Simeone.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique and club president Josep Maria Bartomeu have suggested Madrid, who sit four points clear of the Catalan giants at the top of LaLiga, are benefiting from favourable decisions from referees.

Zinedine Zidane said has was "tired" of hearing such comments after his side beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 on Sunday, the second straight game they have won courtesy of a Sergio Ramos penalty, which was awarded after a VAR review spotted Dani Garcia's trip on Marcelo.

Iker Muniain was critical of the officials after the match because Athletic did not receive a spot-kick for Ramos appearing to step on Raul Garcia's foot off the ball or for another incident involving the Madrid captain and Dani Garcia.

Madrid have been awarded nine penalties in LaLiga this season – only Athletic and Real Mallorca have earned more (10 each) – and Simeone thinks it is natural for a team that plays on the front foot to get such decisions.

"VAR exposes everything. Before we didn't have the possibility of seeing some things that we now see. The referees are people who can be wrong as well," Simeone told a news conference.

"It is fairer. If they give you more penalties, it's because you are in the opposition's area more. If they attack more, like Real Madrid, it means you are there longer.

"In the speed of the game it's difficult to see what happens, but now another referee sees it with calmness on television. People too, from their homes.

"Then there is a person who decides, which is the VAR. It can hurt you or help you, but now we are all clear on if its offside, if it's a penalty… we are all more exposed."

Atleti face Celta Vigo on Tuesday and will be without Joao Felix due to an ankle injury.

Joao Felix has scored eight goals and supplied three assists in 34 appearances in all competitions since joining from Benfica for €126million last year.

Simeone intends to remain patient with the 20-year-old Portugal international when he is available for action again.

"Joao is in his first year at Atletico. I am not surprised by anything that is happening to him," said the Atleti boss.

"He has to be patient and not disengage. The anger he has because of what he wants to show, because of his qualities, sometimes costs him.

"Few footballers at 20 or 21 are the finished article. He has undoubted talent. He's a humble, respectful boy who gets along with everybody."

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone insisted he was not yet thinking about the Champions League.

A brace from Alvaro Morata and a Koke goal saw Atletico beat Real Mallorca 3-0 on Friday to extend their unbeaten run to 14 matches in all competitions.

Part of that run was eliminating Liverpool in the Champions League last 16 to book their spot in the quarter-finals.

But Simeone, whose side consolidated third spot in the LaLiga table, said the Champions League was not yet a concern, even with the quarter-final draw to be held on July 10.

"I'm not thinking at all about the Champions League at the moment," he told a news conference.

"There's still four very important games left, against teams who are also fighting for places in LaLiga. We're just going to keep competing until the end of the season, like we always do.

"Now we have a slightly bigger time to rest, which is every four days if I'm not mistaken.

"And now we're just going to keep trying to have a little bit of continuity because there's slightly more time to recover. Now the players are starting to get ready and accustomed to quickly getting ready physically again for the next game."

Atletico are in action again on Tuesday, when they visit Celta Vigo.

Diego Simeone backed Joao Felix despite substituting the attacker again in Atletico Madrid's 3-0 win over Real Mallorca in LaLiga on Friday.

Joao Felix was replaced early in the second half at the Wanda Metropolitano, where Alvaro Morata scored a brace before Koke's sealer.

A reported €126million signing from Benfica last year, the Portugal international has been substituted in 17 of his 21 LaLiga starts.

But Atletico coach Simeone backed the 20-year-old and said he had full confidence in the attacker.

"We are absolutely confident in his quality, his talent and the way he plays and we need him to reproduce on the field," he told a news conference, via AS.

"We focus on the goal of the team and the club, we do not stop at individualities. On the basis of promoting individualities, we seek to improve the collective. If we stop at the singles it would be dangerous.

"Joao started well against Osasuna, he had good games, [against Mallorca] he was not as fine in his game and he understood that the team needed other characteristics as with Vitolo, who worked for what the team needed."

In 34 appearances in all competitions this season, Joao Felix has scored eight goals and provided three assists.

Simeone, whose side consolidated third place in the table, said his message to younger players was simple.

"I always try to convey to the young people who come here that this is a competitive team, that they have to win," he said.

"And we work as a consequence of looking for the best to win, we have no commitment to anyone, only that things go towards where we understand that it is better."

Atletico are in action again on Tuesday when they visit Celta Vigo.

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