A year ago this week took place Atlético´s win in Anfield. A game that marked the football world for being the last one with fans in the stands; the Atlético crowd for sealing a magic comeback when everything seemed lost; for the journalism because the legendary Michael Robinson broadcasted for one last time from the ‘Reds’ temple before going up to the sky and witness a few months later his beloved Liverpool winning the Premier League 20 years later. It was also Marcos Llorente ´s night, as he would not be the same after his astonishing brace. It is said that there are certain games that mark careers. His blew up that day with two incredible actions with which he changed his playing style.
Marcos Llorente´s life has changed as much as the rest´s of the society. He wandered around football without finding his place, looking to settle down in a spot where he could explode his technical and physical conditions. He spent his academy years at real Madrid (even though he played for Atlético when he was a kid as well) and the coach who did not know where to play him, Zinedine Zidane, was precisely the one who made him debut with Madrid´s second team in the 2014-2015 season. Marcos was a pure midfielder, and a season in Vitoria started to unveil his abilities to be a ‘box to box’ player, as he never wears out.
Llorente returned to Madrid, but he did not manage to become a starter in the place he was supposed to play, as Casemiro was (and is) irreplaceable. It was then when he decided to leave and joined the biggest rival, Cholo´s Atlético, in exchange for 30 millions. Real thought that they had just closed an excellent sale for them, as Marcos was considered an expendable player for the Frenchman coach. Nothing far from reality, Llorente did not impress Simeone either in the first part of the season, he did not earned his confidence. Llorente did not transmit the required secureness as a midfielder to Cholo´s eyes in a team that is conservative by nature, which is the reason why he was left to the bench. He had more than enough conditions, but he would not stand out in the middle.
Simeone was able to see what others did not and realized that he should play as a winger or striker instead of as a midfielder after detecting his potential during practices. The day where this thought got proved marked the career of a player that would not be the same from that point. Marcos Llorente led Atlético to the next round against, by then the unbeatable Liverpool, and then became a key part in Cholo´s lineups, now playing forward, which is where he best makes the most out of his physical strength.
Llorente never stopped working and Cholo knew how to find the spot that nobody had told him about before. He bursted in the exact and most difficult time and place to do it arise and changed the perception by many Atlético fans who punished him at first with the ‘Viking’´s label. He earned his leadership thanks to his work and belief, right the cholo´s way. Now we can´t think of an Atlético without Llorente and, if they end up winning the league, his assists plus Suárez´s goals will play a huge part on the title. He did not stop believing and the luck (Cholo) got him working.
“Life is like football, those who work hard always get their reward”
Diego Pablo Simeone