Miranda was one of the key components in Atletico Madrid’s title-winning campaign last season, forming a strong defensive partnership with Diego Godin in a team that conceded just 26 goals in 38 matches.
He has continued to perform well during the current campaign and remains a central figure in Diego Simeone’s team. Despite this, Alberto R. Barbero of Marca reported on Thursday that Atletico would be willing to allow the Brazilian to leave the club at the end of the season.
While at first glance it would appear, if true, to be a strange decision, a more thorough look at the situation suggests that it might just make sense in the long-run.
The first consideration is Miranda’s age. He will turn 31 in September and while the peak age for centre-backs is older than that for midfielders or forwards, this summer probably represents the last opportunity Atletico will have to get good money for him.
In addition, as per Soccerway, he has twice been troubled by hamstring problems so far this season and these are the sort of injuries that can increasingly limit playing time once players enter their 30s.
While experience is certainly a virtue for defenders, Atletico already have in the 28-year-old Godin a born leader capable of guiding younger colleagues through matches. The manner in which he supported teenage left-back Lucas Hernandez through Atletico’s 2-0 win over Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey in January provided clear evidence as such.
Miranda’s contract expires in June 2016 and he will be free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with interested parties at the end of the calendar year. If another team is willing to pay an acceptable fee this summer, Atletico may be minded to take it rather than risk losing him for nothing a year later.
The minor injury problems that the Brazilian has suffered this season have opened the door for Jose Maria Gimenez to come into the side and underline the potential he showed in his limited appearances last season.
He has slotted in seamlessly along his Uruguayan compatriot and international team-mate Godin and impressed with a string of strong and composed displays.
Will retiterate that Giménez has much work to do in terms of ball usage, but as far as reading the game and clearing danger, he’s flawless.
Simeone has great faith in the 20-year-old, so much so that, as per Javier G. Matallanas of AS, Atletico turned down a €22 million bid from Manchester City ahead of the January transfer window.
Atletico also own another highly rated centre-back who could return to the club next season. Toby Alderweireld has performed superbly on loan at Southampton, playing a key role in the side who currently have the best defensive record in the Premier League.
The consistency of the partnership of Godin and Miranda meant that the 25-year-old had few opportunities to impress at Atletico following his move from Ajax at the start of last season. He left in search of regular first-team football but could yet return if that becomes available to him at the Vicente Calderon.
Atletico have one more centre-back who could come back and form part of the first-team squad next season. Emiliano Velazquez has enjoyed a steady campaign on loan at Getafe and drew plaudits for his strong display in their 0-0 draw at home to Barcelona in December.
The 20-year-old played alongside Gimenez for Uruguay at under-20 level and they were paired together in the senior national team for the first time in the 1-1 draw away to Saudi Arabia last October. A future together at Atletico also looks to be on the cards.
Even if Alderweireld doesn’t return, or if Velazquez is not yet considered ready, the manner in which Atletico successfully rebuilt last summer following the departures of Thibaut Courtois, Filipe Luis and Diego Costa suggests they would be able to find an adequate replacement for Miranda in the wider market.
Miranda batted away questions about his future during a press conference ahead of Atletico’s match against Celta Vigo this weekend, as per Marca. But there are also reasons why he himself might want to leave, not least to secure what is likely to be the last big contract of his career.
The Brazilian is undoubtedly one of the finest centre-backs in world football—regardless of what FIFA World XI voters may say—and in most circumstances, he is the sort of player that few teams would countenance selling.
But because of his age, his contract situation and the fact that the club have in-house replacements ready to step in and take his place, selling Miranda this summer would make good long-term sense for Atletico Madrid.
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