Simeone signs four-year deal at Atletico
Former Argentina international midfielder Diego Simeone has agreed a new four-year deal to remain in charge of Atletico Madrid until 2017.
Simeone has impressed since taking over Atletico in December 2011 and has led the side to sit second in the table, 11 points behind Barcelona but crucially two ahead of city rivals Real Madrid.
Under his tenure, the club have also won the Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup, while they are set to play Real in the final of the Copa Del Rey in May.
That record, and the fact that his previous deal was to end in June, had lead to speculation that the Argentine could be headhunted by one of Europe's biggest clubs, with Premier League side Chelsea and Serie A outfit Internazionale among those mentioned, but Atletico announced on Tuesday that Simeone had agreed to stay and build on the startling progress he has made so far.
A statement on Atletico's official website read: "The club have reached an agreement that seals continuity and keeps the Atletico coach on the bench until 2017. Atletico Madrid and Diego Pablo Simeone have agreed to renew the coach for the next four seasons.''
After putting pen to paper, the former Atletico midfielder, who spoke to the media alongside club president Enrique Cerezo and sporting director Jose Luis Perez Caminero at a special event at the Estadio Vicente Calderon on Wednesday, said this was still his ideal job.
"I always wanted to return and I prepared myself for that," Simeone said. "I appreciate the confidence shown in me by the directors. We can continue with this idea, and this project, which unites us. I also want to think the fans who have been with us since the first day. This contract is a success for the club, and will help to keep building this balance at the club."
Simeone stressed that winning games and trophies was important, but that his ultimate goal was to bring stability to a club which has seen more than its fair share of swings and roundabouts in recent decades.
"From this balance institutions can grow, sustained by the talent which the players bring," he said. "We all want a better Atletico Madrid. I am happy that this continues, but the most important thing is next Sunday's game. We must keep going step by step and not get confused by success. We need stability to keep growing. That fills me with pride."
Asked if winning the Champions League was now an objective for Atletico, and for his expectations of May's Copa del Rey final against city rivals Real Madrid, Simeone said his focus was more on the shorter term and maintaining their position in the top four.
"To aspire to win the Champions League you first have to qualify," he said. "First comes first. There is still a long way to go in La Liga, many things to do. I hope too we can beat Madrid in the final. We are working towards that."
And quizzed over whether or not he expected key striker Radamel Falcao and playmaker Arda Turan to also be at the Calderon next season, Simeone gave no guarantees.
"I am not Falcao's agent, nor Arda's agent," he said. "But I have said many times, and I repeat now, that that I love Falcao a lot, I know him since he was a kid and he always gives his most for the club he is at. If he stays with us then that would be welcome, if not I wish him all the best. I know Arda less, but his talent is at the heart of our team and I hope he also stays with us."
The continuing success of Atletico's youth system, which has provided current first team midfielder Koke and promising kids like Saul Niguez, Javier Manquillo and Oliver Torres, would be vital for the club's future, Simeone added: "We are looking for continuity from the youth system, as we see with Saul, Manquillo and Oliver. We will keep looking for that. I like to have players from our own 'cantera', with Koke as well as those I have mentioned."