The captain has returned more rested than ever. Koke is one of the first-team footballers who kicked off the preseason on July 7. Since the first day. One month after the end of the 2022-23 season, with the last game of the championship on June 6 against Villarreal. All this taking into account that Luis de la Fuente did not resort to the vallecano for the final phase of the League of Nationswhere the Selection was made with the title.
It is not usual to see Koke outside of international tournaments. The midfielder has worn the Red shirt 70 times and has been present in the last three World Cups and the last two Euro Cups. What’s more, he participated in Spain’s first two games in Qatar in this atypical 2022 World Cup held between November and December and which stopped the national competitions. In recent summers, the mattress captain was always among the athletes who started their vacations later, either by high caliber tournaments or by international friendlies. To this. And Koke is the engine of Simeone’s Atlético. The 2022-23 campaign had a difficult start, off point, slower-minded and in a team that did not feel comfortable. Despite this, the captain is basic for the operation of the mattress game.
A muscle injury sidelined Koke for six games at a key moment of the course. Atlético beat Betis, drew against Rayo, Leverkusen and Espanyol and lost against Cádiz and Porto. A victory in six games and the final goodbye to the Champions League and the options of fighting for the League title. Once again the importance of the Vallecano in the team’s automatisms was demonstrated. If Koke could not show his best version at the start of the championship, Luis Enrique included him in any case among his summons for the World Cup despite arriving physically very tight. And, after the tournament in Qatar, Atlético has rediscovered the dominant Koke, with ideas that speed up the game and improve everything that happens around him, even though Luis de la Fuente decided not to take him into account.
Now Koke faces a complete preseason and with a full vacation. Kondogbia has left for Olympique de Marseille and Andrea Berta has a great challenge in the pivot this summer. They are looking for a player who complements Koke and can replace him when he is not available. The Vallecano has moved away from the area to start the team’s plays, but it must be remembered that he is Atlético’s top assistant in the last decade and one of the midfielders with the most goal passes in the competition. Last season was the first season in his career without scoring since 2009-10. But, as long as there are no exits, that incorporation will not take place and Witsel and the youth player Gismera will be his alternatives.
Contract until 2024
Koke is facing the last year of his contract, although the club and its captain are scheduled to meet closer to the date to negotiate a renewal. It must be taken into account that In the 2024-25 season, Atlético will return to its previous shield and it seems unthinkable not to have the footballer with the most appearances in the club’s history leading a historic event, especially after having been the first to demonstrate on social networks. A proposal is expected with a reduction in the current salary. Meanwhile, Koke continues to raise the ceiling of matches played with the rojiblanca. Last year he surpassed Adelardo (553) and finished the year with 587. The 600 are getting closer and there is no impossible figure for a Koke who at 31 years old continues as an untouchable in Simeone’s eleven. His captain and the only footballer who has lived from day one with the coach on the bench.