For Atletico Madrid, this transfer window was a welcome one, given it was the first transfer window for a good while in which they were actually permitted to register new players.
Usually having to fight off interest in their star players, this time around it was all about the star arrivals with Vitolo and Diego Costa joining the squad. Here, ESPN FC delves into Atleti’s window.
What went right?
Easy: A team that was badly in need of another goalscorer now has one. Diego Costa has hit the ground running, netting on debut and could well be the man who helps fire Los Colchoneros to Europa League glory.
The Spain international is currently injured, though, and Diego Simeone will need to manage him carefully given his exacting demands and the fact Costa has not played for six months.
The club’s decision to allow Augusto Fernandez to leave for China is a brave one, yet it is testament to the growth of Thomas Partey. The Argentine midfielder was incredibly unlucky with injuries during his spell in the capital, having shown himself to be a top-level player in the run to the 2016 Champions League final, however, it was the right time to say goodbye.
Vitolo’s big-money arrival was much-needed, too. Yannick Carrasco is out of favour, Saul Niguez out of form and Nicolas Gaitan well … out of the picture is putting it kindly.
Vitolo is a useful addition to the squad, with proven pedigree — however Simeone’s preference to set up conservatively in midfield means he has been short of minutes and form.
Unlike Costa, the 28-year-old has never played under the Argentine before and this has perhaps come as a shock to the system. The fact he had a knock before joining up with Los Rojiblancos did not help. Over the next few months he needs to show he is a worthy squad member and earn himself not only a place in the Atletico XI but also the Spain squad for Russia.
While getting Augusto off the books was a smart move, the fact Atleti have been unable to shift Gaitan — who joined for €25 million after a prolonged courtship by Simeone — goes to show just how woeful a signing he has been.
Lowly Premier League sides have more money than sense and the fact that the club could not offload him to Swansea just goes to show how far his star has fallen.
Much has been made of the fact Jan Oblak has a €100 million buyout clause, and in the madness of the modern-day transfer market, that is not considered all that much money.
Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool and even Real Madrid have been linked to the Slovenian and will be in search of a goalkeeper come summer. They can afford to pay the money and Atleti would be helpless to stop arguably the best goalkeeper in the world on current form (he is certainly in the top two) from leaving for a relative bargain, given his age and ability.
The board should make it a priority to sit down with Oblak — who only turned 25 three weeks ago — and his agent to thrash out a new deal that not only gives him the pay raise he deserves but ensures his clause is doubled to ward off suitors.
Likewise, the Jose Maria Gimenez situation is baffling. One of the most promising centre-backs in world football has far too often found himself playing second fiddle to the erratic Stefan Savic and the defence’s form has suffered from his absence.
One school of thought is that given his contract expires this summer and he is yet to agree a new deal with the club, Simeone is phasing him out — but because the side is much better with him in it, a new deal has to be reached. With him free to negotiate with foreign clubs — not to mention a chronic shortage of genuinely top-class centre-backs out there — Los Colchoneros needed to sell him this window if he has no future at the club.
Given that did not happen, there must surely be discussions planned. Having missed out on a lot of Champions League money this season, the club economically cannot afford to lose an asset worth northward of €40 million for nothing this summer.
Verdict: B- — Not bad and the squad is certainly stronger than four week ago — but it could have been much better. Much depends on the to-do list.
Joseph Walker covers Atletico Madrid for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @Joe_in_espana.