It’s the end of an era nobody is talking about.
All of the focus ahead of Arsenal’s Europa League semi-final first leg clash has been fully geared towards Arsene Wenger’s European home send off, and rightfully so.
However, the two legs also happen to be what could well turn into the final European ties for the current Atletico Madrid side as we know and (sometimes) love it.
A summer of change beckons for Diego Simeone’s side…
Farewell to a legend
Fernando Torres is likely make his final appearance(s) against English opposition over the two legs with Arsenal.
The former Liverpool No9 will depart his boyhood club at the end of the season.
Torres, now 34, is likely to move to MLS or China after Simeone decided against renewing his contract.
Torres has succumbed to the sands of time since rejoining on loan in 2015, before signing permanently the following year.
El Nino’s legacy is secured at the club, having exhilarated fans during his first spell, and he recently scored his 100th La Liga goal, a strike that was met with an emotional reaction from the Wanda Metropolitano faithful.
But it’s those left over from the title-winning crop of 2014/15 who will be missed on the pitch.
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RIP the red and white (and blue) wall
Diego Godin and Juanfran have both been stalwarts for an Atleti side who take pride in keeping clean sheets.
The pair aren’t getting any younger and this could be one of their last opportunities to win more silverware.
Uruguayan colossus Godin, 32, scored against Barcelona to seal Atletico’s La Liga title success in 2013/14.
The centre-back is losing pace and while he’s not expected to leave this summer, life post-Godin is becoming an increasingly close reality.
33-year-old Juanfran is ruled out of the first leg with a hamstring injury.
The Spaniard’s career at the top level is also sadly drawing to a gradual end and his contract with the club expires in the summer.
The defensive obituaries don’t stop there, Filipe Luis turns 33 in the summer and has been dogged by injuries in recent times.
Atletico can however be comforted by the knowledge that rising star Lucas Hernandez seems like a fitting long-term replacement for Luis.
The Frenchman, who also can also play as a centre back, is the brother of Real Madrid’s Theo Hernandez and will be an important part of the club’s future defence, alongside Man City reject Stefan Savic.
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Summer fire sale
Antoine Griezmann, despite leaving everyone marvelling at his incredible talent, is yet to win a major trophy.
The 27-year-old forward was part of Real Sociedad’s second-tier promotion side in 2010, and only has one Spanish Super Cup in 2014 to boast from his time in Madrid.
Griezmann’s patience could be wearing thin after several barren seasons, and he might finally be on the move this summer.
Drake’s biggest fan has a €100m (£87m) buyout clause in his Atletico contract and has been linked with a move to Barcelona.
Simeone will be hoping he can persuade the Frenchman to stay put, so that Greizmann can continue his impressive partnership with the enigmatic Diego Costa.
Jan Oblak is another name rumoured to be on the move this summer.
The Slovenian shot stopper has been a revelation since joining Atletico in 2014.
We could well be seeing Oblak in the Premier League next season, the keeper has been linked with a summer move to Arsenal or Liverpool.
Gabi, now 34-years-old, isn’t exactly a spring chicken in footballing terms.
The often understated defensive midfielder has been named in the Champions League squad of the year twice, but has never won a senior international cap for Spain.
He would have 100 caps if he was English.
Gabi is somewhat the embodiment of Simeone’s pragmatic Atletico side.
Not always the most entertaining to watch, but reliable and gets the job done more often than not.
The Spaniard’s contract expires this summer and his future at the club is uncertain.
The ability for this Atletico side to compete so brilliantly with Real Madrid and Barcelona in recent years is often overlooked by football fans.
Simeone’s future at the club seems to be assured, at least for the short term, with their next opponents unlikely to move for a manger who would bring such a contrasting style from the current regime under Wenger.
Chelsea could yet make a move for the Argentine gaffer though, with Antonio Conte all but certain to leave Stamford Bridge in the summer.
If Simeone is to remain at the helm in Madrid, then sadly, a summer of vast transfers, both in and out is on the cards.
If this is to be the end of an era, who would begrudge them another trophy?
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