Simeone likely to make early Atletico exit

Barcelona, September 16

Diego Simeone has opened the door to the possibility of leaving Atletico Madrid in the next two years after announcing today that he had reduced his contractual commitment from 2020 to 2018.

The former Atletico midfielder is one of the most coveted coaches in Europe after breaking Real Madrid and Barcelona’s stranglehold on the domestic title in 2014 and leading his club to two Champions League finals in three years.

Simeone, the longest-running active coach in La Liga, signed a five-year contract extension in 2015, an unusually long deal by Spanish standards.

He said the changes made this week did not mean he was intent on leaving Atletico in 2018. “We’ve decided this situation along with the club’s directors and it does not mean we will not renew again when the contract ends,” he told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s home game against Sporting Gijon.

“We continue to show what we feel for the club. It doesn’t bother me that people speculate about my future but the fact I’m here is because I want to be here,” added Simeone. “I’ve stayed here for four and a half years because I feel a connection with the club and its supporters.”

Simeone set alarm bells ringing after his team lost the Champions League final to Real Madrid in May by saying he was considering his future.

The coach has since gone back on his words and earlier this month reiterated his commitment to leading Atletico into their new 67,000-seater stadium in August 2017.