What next for Atletico Madrid after CL exit

MADRID: Twice finalists in the last four seasons, Atletico Madrid’s Champions League campaign came to an abrupt end this time round as they failed to reach the last 16 for the first time in five seasons. Diego Simeone admitted his side were “condemned” by their inability to beat Azerbaijani Champions League debutants Qarabag over two games as despite taking four points from a possible six off group winners Roma, they finished third also behind Chelsea in Group C. Having just moved into a new 310 million euro ($367 million) stadium at the Wanda Metropolitano, which will host next season’s Champions League final, and broken the club’s transfer record to bring Diego Costa back to the Spanish capital in January, an early Champions League exit is also an untimely financial blow.
Financial fallout
In six years in charge Simeone has transformed Atletico from perennial underachievers on the field which has in turn dragged the economic power of the club into Europe’s elite.
According to Deloitte’s Football Money League, Atletico had the 13th highest income in world football in the 2015/16 season and revenue is expected to increase in the long run thanks to the greater capacity of the Wanda Metropolitano. However, Atletico made 69.6 million euros in prize money and TV revenue from the Champions League alone in 2015/16.
Even with an extended run in the Europa League, Madrid sports daily AS reported on Wednesday Atletico are likely to pick up just 30 million euros from a failed European campaign.
Player exodus?
Atletico will be able to register new players for the first time in 18 months from January 1 after a Fifa imposed transfer ban with nearly 100 million euros already committed to the signings of Costa and Spanish international Vitolo.
The club also made a huge financial effort to put key players Antoine Griezmann, Koke and Saul Niguez on improved contracts during the transfer ban.
Spanish media reported on Wednesday that at least two and possibly three players will need to be sold in January to help Atletico balance the books.
Atletico’s fear remains that Griezmann, the club’s top scorer for the past three seasons, will be lured away come the summer with his 100 million euro buyout clause easily attainable for interested giants like Manchester United, Barcelona or Real Madrid. — AFP