PETE JENSON: Kieran Trippier can be an Atletico great if he stays

PETE JENSON: Kieran Trippier can be an Atletico Madrid great if he stays and Diego Simeone will want to keep him… but a switch to Man United could suit all parties if the money is right

  • Kieran Trippier shone for Atletico Madrid and played big role in La Liga title win
  • But the Englishman won’t be an all-time great at the club if he leaves this summer
  • The 30-year-old has switched agents and been linked with a return to England
  • Diego Simeone will want him to stay but a deal could suit all for the right price 

Kieran Trippier has made it into everyone’s team of the season in Spain after his brilliant campaign for Diego Simeone, but he’ll never get near the club’s all-time XI if he walks away this summer.

The England right back switched agents towards the end of last week in another indication that his time in Spain might be about to come to an end. The move to CAA Base Ltd, who have another Manchester United target, Raphael Varane, on their books, points to a possible return to the Premier League after one of the most successful, albeit so-far short, stints abroad for an English player in years.

David Beckham took four years to win a league title, Trippier did it in half the time and was hugely influential in the success – it was no coincidence that Atletico Madrid’s mid-season wobble came just as Trippier was out for 12 games because of a ban for breaching Football Association betting regulations.

Kieran Trippier’s spell in Spain has been hugely successful and he played a big role in title win

The defender switched agents last week in a sign he could be eyeing a move back to England

Atletico will not let Trippier go without a battle. The player activated a one-year extension on his current deal after playing more than 20 games this season, tying him to the club until 2023.

He has a 60m euros buy-out clause and while that might seem high for a 30-year-old who cost them £20m when Tottenham didn’t want him, last season Trippier looked every inch a 60m euros player.

The supporters will be upset by the departure of one of the core of the squad that delivered what was only the club’s 11th title in its history. Each group that wins the league is instantly immortalized but Trippier will stay forever a notch below Juanfran who was right back when they last won it in 2014 if he goes without staying to see the club’s Wanda Metropolitano full again.

Trippier has a good relationship with the Atletico Madrid fans and they will want him to stay

He had began to establish a connection with the club’s supporters before lockdown interrupted things in March 2020.

There is always a huddle of supporters at the gates of the club’s training ground and Trippier would regularly stop to pose for pictures with supporters. Being thrown a water bottle by fans at the Metropolitano and taking a drink before throwing it back during a game against Celta Vigo right at the start of his time at the club was also one of those details that supporters remember.

If there were doubts about his performances they dissolved especially in the second season when it became clear Simeone valued him so highly. The Atletico coach changed from a 4-4-2 to a back three with wingbacks in part because it got the best out of Trippier. 

Diego Simeone trusts the Englishman and tried to get the best out of him with a system change

He loved the defensive application, the mental strength, the physical intensity and the ability to keep the ball at all costs – he would deliver pinpoint crosses for the forwards if he could but if he couldn’t he would make sure possession was maintained. If it’s good enough for Simeone then it’s good enough for the supporters and if he remains at the club into next season then with the stadium full again he will be as lauded as much as anyone.

But if he’s sold he’ll never get that place in the club’s haul of fame that he’s earned with his performances last season. It was a title won behind closed doors with fans locked out right until the last home game so a greater connection could not be forged.

Speaking to Sportsmail two months after arriving he spoke about the sacrifices his young family had made to help him make his move abroad work. A switch back to the North West might in part be a reward to him. It could also be a way of cementing an England place for the Qatar World Cup. Despite some stellar performances this season he has at times still been bumped off various analysts’ England XIs or even squads, by players who are playing closer to home.

The likes of Reece James and Kyle Walker have been favoured by pundits in the Euros build-up

In the end it will be Atletico’s decision. The club suffered sufficiently through the worst of the closed-stadium to hitch its wagon to the European Super League without thinking twice.

With that now exposed as a cash-cow fantasy the club have to go back to thinking of more realistic ways to bring money to the club. If there were to lose unsettled midfielder Saul Niguez this summer there might be less need to sell Trippier. Simeone will want to keep him but he also knows someone will have to go out for others to come in.

It’s a deal that could suit everyone if the fee is right for the Spanish club. If it doesn’t happen Trippier will be made to feel very much at home on the first day of the new season when, coronavirus permitting, he gets to parade the league trophy once more in front of Atletico Madrid supporters

The troubled financial situation at the clubs means a summer exit could suit all if the fee is right

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