Atletico Madrid lost a lot of big names this past summer but Diego Simeone believes that Lucas Hernandez’s was the hardest to take, even more so than Antoine Griezmann’s.
“The exit that hurt us the most was Lucas, who was a boy from the academy,” Simeone told Cadena Ser’s Manu Carreno on Thursday night.
“[It hurt] More than Griezmann.”
Despite feeling as though the Frenchman’s move to Barcelona wasn’t the most painful of their summer losses, Simeone only had good things to say about the new Barcelona forward.
“I’ve spoken with him on occasion since he left,” Simeone revealed.
“He’s where he wants to be. He’s a humble boy who doesn’t speak much, he’s calm and cheerful.
“I’ve no doubt that he’ll end up doing well there, but now everything depends on [Ernesto] Valverde, not me.”
Thomas Partey is one of the players still at the club to have benefitted from the summer exits though, now having a more prominent role in the side.
“Thomas gives the team more directness,” Cholo explained.
“Last year they criticised me for playing him ahead of Rodrigo [Hernandez], who gave us a lot.
“But when Thomas plays regularly he has a lot, he can score and is intense.”
Atletico are lacking goals this season despite having Joao Felix, Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata up top, and Simeone admitted that he’d like them to be more prolific.
“I’d have liked them to have scored more,” he said. “I don’t care, it keeps me busy.
“The team is better than in other years and the transitions from defence to attack are good but we need to finish better.
“We did it in Russia and in some other matches but in others we’ve been lacking.
“Both [Costa and Morata] are important for us, and I’m sure they’ll do well.”