One of the best things to witness in football is the emergence of young talent. What makes it even more special is when they have come through the youth ranks at the same club and then go on to play international football. In the last year, Koke’s emergence at Atletico Madrid and selection for the Spanish national team has matched this progression.
Atletico have made a superb start to the season and the young Koke has been integral to this. His form has resulted in a continual run in the Spanish squad which will only aid his development. Playing with the likes of Alonso, Busquets and Iniesta (one could go on) will enhance him as a player and will improve his skills.
So far this season he has played eight times for Diego Simeone’s side and he has scored twice and assisted six times. This kind of form for a 21 year old is exceptional and his performance in the derby against Real Madrid made everyone sit up and take note.
The departure of star striker Radamel Falcao during the summer was expected to weaken Atletico, but if anything the side maybe even better this season. Their new goal machine Diego Costa has been in scintillating form and the club have made a brilliant start both domestically and in Europe. It was indeed Koke who supplied the pass to Costa for the winner in the derby and it meant that 11 of Costa’s 17 goals have been supplied by the youngster.
When Simeone initially took over last season it was clear that the Argentine had seen his talent. However, rather than allow him to display his full array of ability he got him to concentrate on learning about the game. His ‘modus operandi’ was clearly that as part of his development he needed to play deeper; coincidently in the position Simeone played throughout his career.
Whilst his creative mindset was not withheld altogether, he appeared to be more of a combative player rather than the assist machine he has been thus far. With the confidence he gained playing under his new coach last season, he is now able to demonstrate to everyone watching what his potential is and could be. If he continues developing under the guidance of Simeone for another few seasons, he will be an exceptional player.
It can be haphazard on occasions to give too much positive press to young players, but Koke’s form thoroughly deserves the praise. He has been instrumental in Atletico’s superb start to the season and with the competition for places in Spain’s midfield being so fierce his continual improvement looks a good bet.
At 21 years old, the futures of both his club and national side look to be in very safe hands.
Written by Andy Hunter
Follow Andy on Twitter @hunter67980
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