Having struggled to earn a regular starting spot in Real Madrid’s first team, Marcos Llorente decided in the summer 2019 to leave the club he had been at since the age of 13. In doing so, he ended an 11-year stay at his boyhood club, and did so in controversial fashion – Llorente moved across the Spanish capital to rivals Atlético Madrid. Originally signed as a defensive-midfield replacement for the Manchester City-bound Rodri, Llorente failed to convince there, but Atlético’s manager Diego Simeone has since had success fielding him further forwards following a sensational performance in an attacking role against Liverpool in the Champions League in March 2020. Spain manager Luis Enrique has also rewarded Llorente’s form by handing him his first call-up to the national squad.
“He is an all-round player,” says Simeone. “He can play anywhere on the pitch – on the wing, as a second striker. After seeing how he worked in training, we tried to put him higher up the pitch and we found different characteristics to our other forwards.”