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The Argentine coach has cut his current contract by two years and is expected to sign for his former club after his time in Madrid comes to an end


GOAL SPECIAL REPORT

The 2020 vision is no more. Diego Simeone signed a new contract just 18 months ago to remain at Atletico for five more years, but has recently reduced that agreement by two seasons and his revised deal will now end in 2018. So what next for one of the game's most coveted coaches?

Simeone joined Atleti at the end of 2011 and has made a massive mark in charge of the team he represented in two spells as a player, winning La Liga, the Copa del Rey, the Europa League, the UEFA Super Cup and the Spanish Supercopa, as well as reaching two Champions League finals.

But after losing the European showpiece on May 28 for a second time in three years to fierce rivals Real Madrid, the Argentine admitted that he would need to take time to consider his future. That was only two months after he had signed his new contract and he later recognised that emotions had been running high in the wake of another painful loss. It was also a message to the board: 'bring me the players so I can challenge for the biggest prizes'.

Another season has since started and Simeone is there once more, as competitive as ever - yet he has cut his contract by two years from 2020 to 2018. That is, this last season at the Vicente Calderon and one more - which will be the first for Atleti at their new home, La Peineta.

"We have always taken the best decisions for the club and for the team - and that is what we have decided," Simeone said in a press conference last week as he confirmed his deal had been shortened by mutual agreement. And he added: "It is a decision that doesn't alter the option to keep renewing when the contract finishes."

However, as Pep Guardiola has said and others have added, it is extremely difficult to maintain the same intensity and desire, to keep on motivating a group of players at a club for more than three seasons, while the relationship with the board has also grown more tense in recent months. And with Simeone, there is perhaps the sense that he has taken this team as far as he can.

Not necessarily, of course. The Argentine is keen to add the one missing piece of silverware to his collection at Atleti. The Champions League is the only major trophy he has yet to win with the Spanish side since taking over from Gregorio Manzano - and he has two more shots at it before his contract ends. He will also hope his side can compete for La Liga once again this term.


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But in reality that will always be tough because his side are up against the two richest clubs in the world, teams with an array of talent and, unlike in 2013-14, both seem stable at the moment. "To win La Liga," Rafa Benitez once admitted as coach of Valencia, "you need both Madrid and Barca to have a bad season."

All the while, Simeone's close relationship with Atleti is passionate and it is heartfelt. But the 46-year-old is also keen to coach in different leagues and to take charge of the Argentine national team in future.

He has already admitted that he would like to coach Inter and the Italian side are already preparing an enticing package to sign their former player when his current contract expires in 2018.

Informally, Inter vice-president Javier Zanetti and Simeone have already been talking and agreed that the move will happen in future at some stage. The two men are very close friends and were team-mates for club and country. "I see myself coaching Inter," Diego admitted in April.

And Zanetti said: "Inter and Simeone will end up working together."

Current coach Frank de Boer has a three-year contract at Inter until 2019, but the Italians have put a clause in that deal to terminate the agreement for just €1.5 million, which is very little money at this level of the game these days.

In the meantime, Simeone’s son Giovanni has just moved to Serie A to play for Genoa, which further strengthens the ties Diego has with Italy. The Atleti coach has often spoken of how he would like to spend more time with his family, despite constant contact on Skype and Facetime.

And much like when Jose Mourinho moved to Inter in 2008, Simeone would have the chance to put the club back at the top in what is currently a difficult time for Italian football. There will be plenty of resources, too, following the recent Chinese takeover at the Nerazzurri. If he is unable to win the Champions League at Atleti, he will have a great chance to do so in San Siro - even though the club is very different to the one he knew as a player.

Simeone has also admitted he would like to coach Argentina one day and some sources in Spain have claimed he could lead out his home nation at the World Cup in 2018, which would be the last shot at glory for the Albiceleste with Lionel Messi at his peak.

But those reports appear wide of the mark and it is impossible to say what will be happening at AFA in two years' time, while the 46-year-old turned down his country after the last World Cup and also showed little interest when Tata Martino stepped down this summer. In reality, he is unlikely to take charge of Argentina until Qatar 2022 at the earliest.

So it is Inter in pole position for the signature of 'El Cholo' in 2018 as they line up a lucrative deal, believed to be twice as high as Simeone's current contract (around €6 million annually after tax), to bring back their former midfielder for the 2018-19 season. The Atleti love affair is reaching its end - but if all goes to plan at San Siro, another one is set to start straight afterwards.

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