In the next few hours, barring major unforeseen events, the signing of Axel Witsel for Atletico Madrid. But the illusion is far from being excessive in the rojiblanco bosom. Once wanted by those of Simeone (five years ago he was one of the most sought-after midfielders on the planet) the Belgian international will arrive at the Metropolitano at the age of 33 and after suffering an Achilles tendon rupture in the 2020-21 academic year. Also, as the club intended, having finished his contract with Borussia Dortmund at the beginning of June, Witsel will sign as a free agent.
With his incorporation, Atlético reinforces a weakened position after the goodbye of Héctor Herrera. In fact, although they may be complementary, Witsel is expected to compete for a position with Condogbia.
Thus, after the already distant departure of Tiago and Rodri’s brief stay in the capital, Simeone once again has a defensive midfielder with an organizing vocation.
Also, despite his age, the quality of the Belgian is unquestionable. He is a pivot that shines in the placement, and, therefore, is dominant in the anticipation; he is intelligent and gives fluidity to the game (a pending issue at Atlético); he has the ability to reach the area from the second line and performs well in the last meters. Also, his season in the Bundesligawith 40 games played in the global competitions, shows that he is still at an optimal level to compete in the elite.
With the World Cup in Qatar on the horizon, which may be his last and, in turn, his first experience in a top-level European club, it makes sense. Let us remember that his name was already loudly heard by the Manzanares when he stood out in the Benfica. However, Axel chose to go to Saint Petersburg, to the Russian Premier League, instead of competing in the best competitions on the continent.
After five years in the former city of the tsars, Witsel packed his bags and left for China’s Tianjin Quanjian. In 2018, when his name seemed forgotten by the general Western public, like that of many others who followed the same fate as the Belgian in the Asian giant (Óscar, Jackson Martínez or Mousa Dembélé), Witsel signed for the Borussia Dortmud. And, indeed, in the west of Germany he showed once again that he is an optimal footballer for the elite. Without the media lights of others, Atlético acquires a consecrated talent at zero price; although, yes, its summer market does not seem to portend great news in the short term.