Witsel won over by Atletico Madrid boss Simeone

By Sports Desk July 07, 2022

Axel Witsel revealed an immediate connection with Diego Simeone helped him decide on a move to Atletico Madrid.

Atleti finalised Witsel's arrival on a free transfer from Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, following four seasons in the Bundesliga.

The Belgium international appears likely to be a regular fixture under the pragmatic Simeone, providing Rodrigo de Paul with an added defensive presence in midfield.

While explaining his desire to keep playing at a high level after leaving Dortmund, Witsel cited Simeone's memory of his performance for Zenit against Atletico at the old Vicente Calderon as a reflection of how he is valued at his new club.

"I decided to come here because for me it's a top club," Witsel said. "I think Atletico Madrid is one of the eight best clubs in the world, and I really wanted to stay in the top level after Dortmund.

"I talked to him [Simeone] a few weeks ago, we had directly a very good feeling. He told me, 'I remember you from 2013', when I played with Zenit at the old stadium.

"I knew he wanted me in the team and I think this is really important when you arrive in a new club. I didn't need my brother Yannick [Carrasco] to tell me I had to come to Atletico Madrid, in my head it was already clear."

The 33-year-old represents a positional need for Atletico after Hector Herrera's departure, while links to Boubacar Kamara were scuppered by his move to Aston Villa.

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