Atlético Madrid hope Rodrigo de Paul can become their latest Argentine legend

The 27-year-old will work with Diego Simeone after completing a transfer from Udinese. He recently won the Copa America, where he completed a great performance for Argentina

Rodrigo de Paul is back in LaLiga Santander, with the former Valencia CF midfielder having completed a move to join Spanish champions Atlético Madrid. De Paul, who came through at Racing Club in his native Argentina, was most recently at Udinese and enjoyed a stellar 2020/21 campaign, completing the most dribbles in Serie A with 122, winning the most duels with 289, earning the most fouls with 126 and providing the second-most assists with 10.

The 27-year-old followed up his excellent domestic season by helping Argentina win the Copa América this summer, the country’s first major international title in 28 years. After Lionel Messi, De Paul was arguably Argentina’s next most important player throughout the tournament and he even set up Ángel di María’s winning goal in the 1-0 victory over Brazil.

Just two days after that success, on Monday, De Paul’s transfer and five-year deal with Los Rojiblancos was confirmed. The club officially announced his arrival at 19:03 local time, a nod to the club’s founding year of 1903. That’s because Atlético Madrid are a club where tradition is important, as they respect their past and all the legends who have gone before.

Many of these legends are also from Argentina, starting with the coach himself. Diego Simeone played 172 times for the club over two stints, before going on to coach the team since 2011. He even just signed a contract extension until 2024, meaning he is going nowhere in the near future.

Other Argentines to have enjoyed success wearing red and white in the Spanish capital include Jorge Griffa, Sergio Agüero and Rubén Ayala, while De Paul’s current Argentina teammate Ángel Correa was a key part of Atleti’s LaLiga Santander triumph in 2020/21.

Where does De Paul fit in at Atlético Madrid?

De Paul arrives at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano in excellent form, so will expect to become an immediate starter at the club. As he said following his announcement: “I’m very happy, I’m going to join LaLiga’s champion and I’m conscious of the responsibility it carries. It is a big step in my football career. Moreover, because of the timing, just after winning the Copa América, this fills me with strength to meet all expectations. I’m football passionate and, because of my experience in Spanish football, I know very well Atlético Madrid.”

De Paul’s first experience in Spain was with Valencia CF, who he played for 44 times between 2014 and 2016. The midfielder, therefore, knows Spanish football well and has proven in Italy that he has more than enough drive and talent to succeed at the highest level.

Atleti won LaLiga Santander in 2020/21 by largely playing a 3-5-2 system, so De Paul should slot in nicely into one of the three central midfield spots, alongside club captain Koke. Marcos Llorente enjoyed a lot of success last campaign by bursting forward from the middle and that will be a template for De Paul to follow.

His acquisition really could prove to be one of the signings of the summer, as Atlético Madrid look to win back-to-back league titles during the 2021/22 campaign.

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