Sunday, July 23, 2017

Koke backs Simeone to remain at Atletico

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 20 Dec 2016

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Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke expects head coach Diego Simeone to see out his contract with the club and insists there is no rift in the Vicente Calderon dressing room.

Atleti secured a much-needed 1-0 win over Las Palmas on Saturday thanks to Saul Niguez’s goal shortly before the hour.

But the 2013-14 LaLiga champions still sit sixth in Spain’s top flight having this season struggled for the type of consistency that has become synonymous with Simeone’s celebrated reign in the capital.

The former Argentina international negotiated down his March 2015 contract extension – which ran until the end of the 2019-20 season – to expire in June 2018 earlier this year, heightening speculation over the future destination of one of football’s most sought-after coaching talents.

Nevertheless, the subject has become tiresome for Koke, who told AS: “You [the media] are always asking if he’s going to stay.

“He has a contract and it looks as though he’ll see it out.

“The team is fine; we won, which is what we had to do. It wasn’t an easy game, Las Palmas know what they are doing – they play attractive football and we played very well.

“We had a lot of chances in the first-half but it just didn’t want to go in. But Saul’s incredible goal gave us the confidence to win.”

Such victories, Koke believes, show there are no problems behind the scenes and the 24-year-old Spain international is hopeful Atleti can put together a decisive winning run during the new year.

“No [there is no rift], not at all. We’re fine, working hard,” he said.

“We’ve been doing the same thing for five years. At the end of the day you go through streaks – 2016 was an historic one for the club and I hope 2017 will be as well.

“We need a little bit of luck. We’ve played well during games but we haven’t been fortunate.

“But there’s still a long way to go, we’re halfway through the season and we’re not in that bad shape. We’re six points off Barcelona in second.

“We need to be more consistent in the league, as we have been in the Champions League. Our objective is to finish third and if we do better than that, that’d be great.”

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