Pete Jenson for MailOnline
Diego Simeone looks set to leave Atletico Madrid at the end of next season but Premier League suitors will struggle to land the hugely successful Argentine coach because he sees Italy as his next destination.
Several Spanish media outlets reported on Thursday that Simeone had taken the extraordinary step of reducing his contract by two years and he will now be a free agent in 2018 instead of being tied to the club until 2020.
The change underlines a desire to bring to an end what will have been a seven-year stay at the club. Simeone is already Spain’s longest serving manager by a distance and having won five trophies with Atletico and taken them to two European Cup finals he has already secured his place in the club’s history as one of its greatest coaches.
Diego Simeone is set to leave Atletico Madrid at the end of next season after seven years
The Argentine has been at the club since 2011 and is one of the most successful in their history
DIEGO SIMEONE ATLETICO MADRID
Took charge: 2011
La Liga (1): 2013–14
Copa del Rey (1): 2012–13
Supercopa de España (1): 2014
Europa League (1): 2011–12
UEFA Super Cup (1): 2012
Champions League Runner-up (2): 2013–14, 2015–16
The former club captain and double-winner is keen not to leave on bad terms and he knows that walking away in 2018 will allow him to see the club into their new 67,000 capacity stadium next season and through a difficult 18 months without being able to sign new players after the appeal against a FIFA transfer ban was rejected.
The 46-year-old former Argentina captain had originally signed a new deal in March 2015, extending his stay at the club until 2020 but he admitted after last season’s Champions League final that he was considering his future and sources close to the Atletico coach say the club had to fight hard to keep him in the summer.
Both Paris Saint Germain and Inter Milan were interested in his services but neither were able to get their man. Simeone was reluctant to move to Paris and his lengthy deal meant huge compensation that put off Inter.
Simeone led Atletico Madrid to victory over Athletic Bilbao in the 2012 Europa League final
A former Serie A player, Simeone favours Italy as his next stop and now with a reduced deal they will get him for free if they wait until 2018.
Atletico are set to move into a new stadium in 2017 and desperately want Simeone to be their manager in that first season but they also understand that his tenure, by Spanish standards, has been a long one and reluctant agreed to his contractual demands in the summer.
Speaking to Sportsmail in an interview last season Atletico Madrid’s president Enrique Cerezo said: ‘Simeone is the perfect coach for Atletico Madrid. How much longer can it last? ‘There is no expiry date. He signed for another five years last summer and if both sides are happy — and I think they are — there is no need to think the situation is going to change.’
In 2014 Atletico went on to win their first La Liga crown since 1996 with a draw at Barcelona
But the emotional rollercoaster of leading Spain’s third club seems to have taken it’s toll. And when the club’s key decision maker Miguel Angel Gil travelled to Buenos Aires in the summer it was to make his coach and offer that would both keep him at the club but also allow him to walk away in two years.
The new deal is understood to top Luis Enrique’s 7m euros (£5.9m) a season package and makes him La Liga’s top-earning coach for the next two seasons.
During his playing days the midfielder (right) was at Inter Milan and Lazio in Serie A
Simeone has been offered Premier League posts in the past with both Manchester United and Chelsea making serious advances. He started learning English two years ago but is understood to have made slow progress and still feels that the language barrier would make success difficult for him in England.
Both Chelsea and Manchester United now have top managers in place and neither club is likely to push for the Argentine again but with Arsene Wenger’s reign at Arsenal coming to a close they could try to tempt Simeone by asking him to join a league already dominated by the world’s top coaches.
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