Kieran Trippier may no longer be part of Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid team, but his description of the time he spent at the Wanda Metropolitano has been glowing in the extreme.
Currently sidelined with a fractured ankle, the right-back has reminded the Premier League of his many qualities in his brief return to action with Newcastle United.
The England international, and first major signing of the club’s Saudi regime, has contributed to a stark upturn in form for the resurgent Geordies. Amazing what a couple of billion pounds can do for a team!
When asked about his reasons for joining the club and leaving a team still with firm Champions League ambitions, he cites family as the leading factor. Speaking to the True Geordie podcast, he was quick to silence the obvious money-grabbing accusations.
“I know my reasons why I came back and money wasn’t one of them. If it was, I would have stayed in Madrid,” he said.
While he and his family were eager to make a move back to the UK, eyebrows have been raised about the decision. It does, however, give him a chance to return to work with Eddie Howe, who he previously played under at Burnley.
His time in Madrid saw him become an even more accomplished defensive presence, with Gareth Southgate recently describing him as a “defensive animal”.
He contributes a large portion of this development to Simeone. “Tactically, he’s a genius. You might be a world-class player but if you’re not going to run for me, you’re off.”
Trippier bought into Simeone’s methods from day one at Atleti and was a mainstay at the right-back position during his two-and-a-half-year spell at the club.
However, the trust between player and manager was severely tested when Trippier was banned from all footballing activity for 10 weeks for encouraging friends to bet on his transfer from Tottenham Hotspur to Atlético.
Speaking on the fallout from the incident, Trippier felt indebted to the trust of the manager and his teammates.
“I owed it to them to give high-level performances when I returned.”
On his return, Trippier was placed straight back into the team, highlighting his importance to Simeone’s system. He played every available minute on his return and got the last kick of the ball at Valladolid when Atlético were crowned La Liga champions.
Despite securing the first major trophy of his career, Trippier yearned for a move back to the Premier League and saw a bid from Manchester United turned down in the summer of 2021.
The 31-year-old has eventually got his move back to the north of England in the black and white of Newcastle. If his experience can keep the Magpies in the Premier League, the Newcastle faithful should give thanks to Diego Simeone for his contribution to their escape.