Diego Simeone spoke to the press after Real Madrid defeated his team in penalties to win the Champions League final, and for what seems like the first time, the Argentine didn’t have the answers. When asked about his future with Atletico Madrid, the visibly downtrodden Simeone did nothing to quell speculation about him leaving.
“Do I have to continue with Atletico or is it the end of a cycle? I have to think about that. It’s a logical question for you to ask after a defeat like the one we’ve suffered today.”
Simeone, who has won every single trophy but the Champions League with Atletico, seems tired. Each accomplishment by the gritty, hyper-organized Atleti team Simeone has built in his image is a battle. It’s a battle against the billion euro empire just across town, it’s a battle against the Catalan giants to the northeast, and it’s a battle against pure economics and the need to sell nearly every one of the jewels Simeone has so expertly handcrafted.
“I feel proud of my players. Quite frankly I love my players. It’s obvious that they’ve given everything that they have, and they always give everything they have. We had the chance to become champions, we didn’t take that chance.”
It’s clear that Simeone does indeed love his players. He spent years playing defensive midfield for Argentina and Inter Milan, patrolling the space in front of his backline with the intensity of an Argentine mastiff protecting his master. He carries that same intensity to this day as he protects his players from referees and hypes the crowd with his rabid gesticulations.
It’s his love for his players that makes his job so difficult. Simeone forms an intense bond with his charges, imparting his tenacity, will to win, and pure passionate fire for the game. However, Atletico’s financial situation is such, that in order to survive as a club they must bring in young talent, mould them, then generate as much profit as they can from their sale. Not ideal for a manager like Simeone, who treats his players like he treats his family.
This is the second Champions League final Simeone has lost with Atletico, and there is a sense that it could be his last in the Colchonero colors.
“You do your best, you try to do what you can, you get to two finals and you lose them both. One you lose 4-1, even though it was 2-1 for a long time, the other you lose on penalties. This cycle for me at Atletico, two finals in three years, is actually a marvellous achievement, but I am not happy with what I have achieved.”
It’s unsure whether this will be the extent of Diego Simeone’s achievements at Atletico Madrid. He’s made no secret of his desire to return to Inter Milan, even declaring openly that he would manage there before his career was over. His friendship with Inter vice president Javier Zanetti is just as strong as it was during their playing careers, and he spoke to Mediaset of his bond with his former teammate and club.
“We’ve exchanged a few words on the phone. As I’ve always said, and I have no fear of saying it again now, one day I will return to Milan because I did well there and left a great memory there, and I have the objective of going back as coach.”
There is no great love for Roberto Mancini at Inter Milan after significant summer spending only resulted in a fourth-place Serie A finish. If Diego Simeone has indeed reached the end of his time at Atletico, it could just mark the start of his time in Milan.