When David de Gea left Atlético de Madrid In the summer of 2011, the sports management of the club, then directed by José Luis Pérez Caminero, was clear that the mold of the goalkeeper that had to be established in the first team and in the lower categories had to respond to the goalkeeper who signed Manchester United. The established canon required a minimum height of 1.90m and the aforementioned size was accompanied by agility and coordination in the movements. Caminero noticed a 16-year-old boy who had been a champion with the Genk. Chelsea was ahead in the hiring of Thibaut Courtois, but Atlético managed an assignment that lasted three seasons.
The Italian Andrea Berta, who replaced Caminero as sports director, was faced with the same problem when he was certain that Chelsea would recover Courtois in the summer of 2014. He needed a goalkeeper to fill the huge emptiness that left the march of the Belgian goal. He had been in charge of monitoring matches and training for a long time Jan Oblak in Benfica. It was a year of observation of his work by various employees of the club. Berta himself went to see him on several occasions and his reports and the effort with which he defended his signing forced Atlético to pay the 16 million euros that Benfica had established as a clause.
Like Courtois, Oblak was a stranger to the public when he landed at Atletico as the most expensive goalkeeper in LaLiga's history. Both were two projects of internal consumption for scouts and technical secretaries. Both were placed by Atlético in the first row of the international showcase. "Courtois came and then Oblak. We do not look for high goalkeepers because we are looking for them because that is what is demanded now in the clubs and in the market. The low goalkeepers are no longer fashionable as in my time, who were Arkonada (Real Sociedad), Miguel Ángel (Real Madrid), Ablanedo (Sporting) or myself, "reflects Ángel Mejías, Atlético exporter in the 1980s and preparer at the lower categories of the club. "Now," Mejías insists, "the first thing you look at a goalie is the height and stop, because a goalkeeper the first thing he has to do very well is stop and then, if you improve the game with the foot that now requires modern football, better. Both have been key in the style imposed by Simeone to be a solid team in defense ", concludes Mejías.
Statistics show that both Courtois and Oblak have been definitive in the successes of the Simeone era. If the Belgian averaged 0, 80 goals conceded in 154 games, Oblak has even lowered that mark to the 0.63 goals received in 199 matches. "Courtois is one of the most complete goalkeepers there is. Despite its height [1,99 metros] It is agile and fast. Oblak [1,89m] is the goalkeeper who best blocks in the world, but that does not mean that Courtois is bad in that facet ", points Aranzubia, substitute goalkeeper of the Belgian in the season 13-14, in which the Athletic one was proclaimed league champion. "Although he was 19 years old, he was very mature and serious in the field. Oblak also shares with him that being very young he settled among the best goalkeepers in the world. "
Pablo Vercellone, Simeone goalkeeper coach, usually tells that with Courtois, who was only 17 years old when he put himself at his orders, he had to do a specific job to hide his age. Oblak arrived a little more done. "Vercellone's method is classic, it's not modern, but its results are there," says Aranzubia.
Problems for the Belgian
This Saturday in the derby against Real Madrid, a hostile welcome awaits Courtois from the red-and-white fans. His plaque on the walk of the legends of Atlético that borders Wanda, like that of Hugo Sánchez, has already been outraged on several occasions. His criticism of Simeone, which he called populist for insinuating that FIFA had awarded him the prize for the best goalkeeper in the world because he now plays for Madrid, and his recent statements to a Belgian newspaper in which he confessed to being a follower of Casillas and Real Madrid have inflamed the environment.
Opposite, the renewal of Oblak has become a matter of state for the red and white leadership. The technical secretariats of some of the big clubs that are interested in hiring already take for granted its continuity. At Atlético they confirm that the same message has been sent to the market by the club. The Oblak agent travels this weekend to Madrid and this can be the final accolade to close the agreement.