Diego Simeone claims star turns within Chelsea’s squad “could play in any team in Europe”, with the Atletico Madrid boss fully aware of the threat posed by the Blues in Champions League competition.
The Argentine coach is readying his team for a heavyweight last-16 showdown with the Premier League giants on a European stage.
Atletico enter the first leg of that encounter sat at the top of La Liga and with plenty of match-winners within their own ranks, but Simeone acknowledges that big spending on the likes of Edouard Mendy and Timo Werner makes Chelsea a tough nut to crack.
What has been said?
Simeone has said of Thomas Tuchel’s side ahead of a meeting in Bucharest on Tuesday: “It's a strong club, financially. Since last year, they have spent enormously.
“The coach is important and he has made a strong impression. It's a young and good squad and they invest in young players.
“They changed the coach when they didn't see the investments were improving (the squad). Tuchel has a strong team and they have improved statistically.
“Just look at the goalkeepers, the strikers ... any player could play in any team in Europe.”
How much have Chelsea spent?
With Frank Lampard at the helm during the summer of 2020, the Blues invested over £200 million ($282m) on fresh faces.
Roman Abramovich bankrolled another elaborate spending spree, with Mendy, Werner, Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell and Hakim Ziyech among those to be snapped up.
Value has not been found in all of those deals, but potential remains at Stamford Bridge as Tuchel endeavours to unlock it.
What else has Simeone said?
The Atletico boss is right to be wary of the Blues, but he has enough quality at his disposal to prolong a continental adventure.
Luis Suarez is an ace in his pack, with the prolific Uruguayan striker starring for the Rojiblancos since making a shock switch from Barcelona in the last summer transfer window.
Simeone has said of the 34-year-old forward, who has 16 goals to his name this season: “I would say the quality of Luis’ presence generates confidence in our team and obviously a lot of attention to our rivals, because history is a part of a footballer that has a strong gift regarding his relationship with the goal. So I hope we can play a good match as a team.
“The club thought about which venues we could play at. We were in contact all the time.
“Obviously it is different because we needed a five-hour flight and Chelsea did a six-hour one instead of two. And after, on the pitch, we also have to think that we are playing at home.”