Matías Kranevitter is presented as Atlético Madrid’s latest signing – what can Los Colchoneros expect?

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As the deal between River Plate and Atlético Madrid was completed back in August, the official presentation of Matías Kranevitter as an Atleti player this morning hardly feels like news but it is a bold step forward in the career of one of Argentina’s most promising young players.

Over the past 18 months River Plate have firmly established themselves back at the summit of South American football, lifting the Copa Sudamericana and the Copa Libertadores in the process. The jewel in Marcelo Gallardo’s side has undoubtedly been 22-year-old Matías Kranevitter and although an €8 million move to Atlético Madrid was agreed back in August, the combatitive midfielder remained at the Monumental until the end of the Argentine league season and the calendar year.

The culmination was River’s defeat to Barcelona at the Club World Cup in Japan and that signalled the end of Kranevitter’s career in Argentina and the beginning of a significant next step in his development.

Handed the number 8 shirt for the remainder of the season, Kranevitter is immediately available to Diego Simone, who has been a firm admirer of El Colo since his emergence in the River youth system.

Speaking at his presentation, Kranevitter said: “I am very happy to be here at a club like this. really wanted to comeIt‘s taken a few months to be able to arrive, but I thank the people for their affection. The people live football here and I will give everything for this club and this t-shirt.

“It is something very nicebecause he is a coach who has won things with the club. He is a winner.” He added, regarding working under fellow Argentine Diego Simeone. It is big challenge for me. One that I am going to work hard on every day.”

Needless to say after his impressive performances for River and the call-up to Gerardo Martino’s Argentina squad, there were other interested parties but Kranevitter explained his decision: “I saw that it was a good group, with a good coach and a group of winners. I immediately decided to join this club. It is a unique opportunity for me, one which I will take full advantage of.

Kranevitter could make his Atlético Madrid debut against Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday in the Copa del Rey but with Simeone’s side currently sitting top of La Liga and the more experienced Augusto Fernández also arriving, it is unlikely that Colo will be rushed into action.

Fernández’s switch to the Vicente Calderón may well see the 29-year-old regain a place in the national side but Simeone looks to play a key role in the future development of La Albiceleste with Kranevitter joining Ángel Correa and Luciano Vietto in Madrid.

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In an era where many of the top South American talents are plucked away from their club sides prematurely, Kranevitter appears to be at the ideal point of his career trajectory to continue his development in Europe. A wealth of winners medals with River and already an Argentina international, Kranevitter needs to be testing himself against the best in the world and under Diego Simeone’s tutelage, there are far better places imaginable.

Simeone knows exactly what he is getting in Kranevitter and if there is an example of an Argentine number 5, then Kranevitter is it. Buzzing around in front of the back four, the 22-year-old looks to win the ball back quickly, recycle play and initiate attacks.

Harrying the opposition into mistakes, Kranevitter is fast and strong into the tackle but rarely rash leading to a high percentage of turnovers but relatively few fouls. This defensive duty however is just half the job of a traditional number five and so they must be prepared to carry the ball forward and shift the ball from defence into attack.

Kranevitter does just this (and this is perhaps where the comparisons with Javier Mascherano are misplaced – if there was a resemblance with any Barcelona player it would be Sergio Busquets) and although his passing isn’t extraordinary, it is effective. The ball is swiftly moved forward or given to those looking to break forward and attack and efficient use of the ball in this position is the order.

Is he the quickest player? No. Does he offer a goal threat? No. But that really misses the point of what Kranevitter is tasked with and what he does do incredibly well.

At just 22, he shows the maturity to play the role – his positioning, tackling and passing are excellent and once he develops more physically and mentally it would be no surprise to see him become a cornerstone of both Atlético Madrid’s and Argentina’s midfield.

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