Atletico need Tiago presence - Simeone

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The 35-year-old was linked to a move far east, but he has underlined his commitment to the Liga club and his coach wants to see him at his best

Diego Simeone has praised Tiago for setting the record straight after rumours he was set to swap Atletico Madrid for the Chinese Super League.

Reports had suggested the experienced midfielder - who has only made nine LaLiga appearances this season - could become the next European star to join the growing exodus to China.

However, the 35-year-old stressed his commitment to Atleti on Thursday but did admit there had been times when he had considered his future at the club earlier in the campaign.

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Simeone was proud of Tiago's approach to the speculation and reiterated the Portugal international's importance to his Atletico side.

"He clearly expressed his feelings," Simeone told a media conference ahead of Saturday's meeting with Real Betis.

"We don't tend to air what we discuss in private, but he felt he had to explain the whole chat.

"He was clear and convincing.

"I like him as a player and as a person, and I want him to end the campaign on a high note, because the squad needs his presence.

"As I told him in October, five minutes of Tiago are important for the team."

Meanwhile, Simeone has also made it clear what he expects from those players on the fringes of the first team if they want to force their way into his plans.

"The minutes we give to the players depend on what they give to us and most of all on what they give to the team," he added.

"Angel [Correa] said [something similar] the other day. He's doing well, always trying to score and in matches where he doesn't think he can score, chances arise.

"He has had always chances to score in the games that he's played and I think that he's played quite a few.

"Nico [Gaitan] has played a bit less, I think that for some time now he's been learning what the team needs and you can see he has because the other day he played a good match and tomorrow he's going to play again.

"The better the team works, the better the collective functions."

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