Will Kieran Trippier be a hit with Atletico Madrid?
Background photo: Forthevline, CC-BY-SA 3.0
Under Daniel Levy, Tottenham Hotspur developed into a stable that supplies top European clubs with superstars. Gareth Bale. Luka Modric. Kyle Walker. and now Kieran Trippier.
The England right-back joined Tottenham from Burnley in 2015 on a deal worth £3.5 million pounds. He had come to the Clarets after failing to impress in the pre-Guardiola Manchester City youth system. After three loans to Barnsley, the Sky Blues sent him to Turf Moor in 2012. Mauricio Pochettino pegged him as a future starter when he bagged the winning goal against Watford in 2016.
Kyle Walker made him wait, however. Trippier served as his understudy for two years until Walker was ironically dealt to Manchester City with Guardiola now in charge and in desperate need of fullbacks. His second grabbed the opportunity by the scruff of the neck, needing just a few matches to convince Pochetino he could fill the void. With consistent play, he developed his game quickly. Soon enough, his play convinced Gareth Southgate to move Walker to a central role in a three-back system to accommodate Trippier. Bursting runs, pinpoint service into the box and set-piece wizardry became the 2-year-old's calling cards.
Trippier concluded the 2017/18 campaign with nine assists in 35 appearances, helping Spurs to a third-place finish in the Premier League. Other clubs were interested in his services but he remained happy in North London.
Last season proved to be a difficult one, though. Injuries limited his contributions. When he was in the lineup, he was inconsistent. Nevertheless, he was on hand for the Champions League final against Liverpool.
With the back pages filled with rumours that Tottenham were seeking a replacement after his substandard season, he began to look at offers from other clubs. In the end, he chose Atletico Madrid, following Spurs alumni Gareth Bale and Luka Modric to the Spanish capital, albeit to join Real Madrid's city rivals.
Atletico is a club in transition. Diego Simeone lost several key figures this summer. Antoine Griezmann, Diego Godin, Lucas Hernandez, Juanfran and Rodri all departed. The board has already invested €243 million to retool. The major purchase was Joao Felix on €126 million. The Benfica no.10 arrived as Antoine Griezmann's replacement. The club then focussed on their backline, acquiring defensive midfielder Marcos Llorente from Real Madrid, centre-backs Mario Hermoso and Felipe from Espanyol and Porto respectively and left-back Renan Lodi from Athletico Paranaense in the Brasileiro Campeonato along with Trippier.
The Englishman should be good value for Los Colchoneros at €22 million. His incursions into the final third will keep La Liga wingers and defenders on their heels. His link-up play and creativity should benefit Atleti's attack. With players like Alvaro Morata, Diego Costa and Nicola Kalinic as targets, his service into the box should be appreciated.
In addition, his dead-ball magic offers the Rojiblancos a new dimension. He can also serve as a wingback or winger, giving Diego Simeone tactical options. He will fit into the Argentine's defensively-oriented system but may breathe life into the attack as well. He is set to step into the starting lineup. The full measure of his impact will be revealed in the fall.