There was "no ceiling" to
striker Radamel Falcao's ambition after the Colombian's
brilliant finishing brought Athletic Bilbao to their knees in a
3-0 triumph in Wednesday's Europa League final, Atletico Madrid
coach Diego Simeone said.
Falcao scored twice in the first half at the National Stadium in Bucharest, a year on from his exploits in last
season's final when his goal was enough to secure Porto the
Europa League title.
Atletico, desperate to build a side that can regularly
compete in the Champions League alongside Real Madrid and
Barcelona, dug deep into their pockets to splash out 40 million
euros and bring him from Portugal to the Spanish capital last
summer. The 26-year-old has repaid their faith with 12 goals in
the Europa League and 23 in La Liga.
Simeone, winning his first European trophy as a coach after
securing domestic titles in his homeland Argentina with
Estudiantes and River Plate, admitted Falcao's talent and
ambition could tempt bigger clubs.
"I'll have to hold on to him won't I," a drained-looking
Simeone told a news conference, offering the hint of a smile.
"I have known Radamel since he was very young, we were
champions in Argentina [with River Plate] and we are champions
"I'm very fond of him, he's an admirable player, he always
wants more and I believe there is no ceiling to his ambition.
"I hope he will stay with us at Atletico Madrid and if not
I'll be happy with whatever is best for him. I hold him in very
high esteem. I love him very much."
Simeone also said signing Brazilian Diego, who scored the
third goal, on a permanent deal could be key to Atletico's
ambitions of progressing. Diego failed to shine at Juventus and
Wolfsburg before leaving Germany on a season long loan.
"Radamel and Diego are both determining players. We know we
can win a match when they are on the pitch," added Simeone.
"I hope we can also play in the Champions League, let's see
if Diego can stay with us."
Tenth in La Liga when the former Argentina captain took
charge, Atletico have improved to fifth and still could claim a
Champions League place if results in the final weekend of the
season go their way.
"I feel very proud about my players, very proud of the fans
and I'm grateful to the people who trusted in the team and in
myself some months back in December so we could reach this
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