Belt, from stirrer to reference

What does Correa play? From what Simeone sends. Of what the team needs at all times. It is the palpable reality. So far this season he has played first offensive reference. Second. Half-pointed. Right inside … even long-distance winger against Chelsea in the Champions League.

Due to this well-interpreted versatility, if he plays against Valladolid on Saturday, Ángel Correa (Rosario, Argentina, 26 years old) will play for the first time all 38 league games in his six years as an rojiblanco player.

The one that is about to end is his most complete season since he landed in 2015 at the Vicente Calderón. It is supported by his higher statistics (8 goals and 8 passes) and the remarkable football sensations offered in one game and another as well. From an agitator, from a bench resource to propel the team when the attack stalled, he has become one of the fixed offensive references. His game enters through the eyes. It is eye-catching. Play where they send you and every day you do it better. He shines when disguised in his 171 centimeters, he sneaks between enemy lines and pulls his repertoire: controls oriented with both feet; first class walls; ballroom dance dribbles; passes into space and a back game more typical of a pivot than a point guard.

What is missing? Goal. Accuracy in the auction. Aim. His eight goals in the 37 games played (28 as a starter, three complete and nine as a substitute), leave a poor record: a goal every 291 minutes (0.2 per game). Little for everything it generates. A specific statistic gives him away: he has missed nine obvious chances. One of those that serve to score points and win games. In his defense, it can always be argued that, if the coach did not change his position so many times throughout the game and, above all, did not force him to work so hard on pressure, possibly at the time of the auction he would be less worn from the physical point of view and more lucid in the mental.

It was between March and April when he chained three or four very clear consecutive errors against Levante, Sevilla and Betis and Simeone jumped to his defense like a panther. A public hug at Villamarín and some kind words at the conference served to save soldier Correa. The player responded to affection with what it costs him the most. Goals. In the next two games he scored the first two against Eibar (5-0) and the one that opened the scoring against Huesca (2-0).

The 200 league games held last Sunday against Osasuna confirm that Diego Simeone has always believed in his compatriot, but the competition in attacking positions had been fierce: Griezmann, Fernando Torres, Jackson, Vietto, Gameiro, Carrasco, Diego Costa , Álvaro Morata …

Correa was about to leave Atlético in the summer of 2019. The club wanted the Valencian player Rodrigo and his signing went through his sale to Milan. He had one foot out, but the economic figures did not add up and the Argentine stayed.

The arrival of Luis Suárez has been a blessed glory for Angelito, as he is called in the dressing room. Simeone soon realized that the team had to travel in that space that he proclaims so much and play more in the opposite field than in his own. It was necessary to bring the more players the better to the Uruguayan’s area of ​​influence and he did not find a better hook than Correa.

Either from the right, where he defends his band like a wild boar, or from the midpoint or within the area, the Argentine has found the ideal plot for his tricks with the ball.

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