Diego Simeone says he is fully committed to remaining Atletico Madrid manager until the conclusion of next season.
The Argentine, who has transformed the Primera Liga club in his six years in charge, is linked perennially with a move away from Spain, with English Premier League sides Chelsea and Everton reported to be among his recent suitors. Simeone is also regularly rumoured to be a target of the Argentina national team, or former club Inter Milan.
However, Atletico club president Enrique Cerezo said on Tuesday that Simeone had given his word that he will see stay until the end of the 2018/19 campaign at least. His present deal, which he signed in September, runs through to 2020.
Speaking Wednesday on the sidelines of the Dubai International Sports Conference, Simeone confirmed he would indeed fulfill that promise, saying: “Yes - this is true.”
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Simeone’s dedication will represent a significant boost to Atletico, who headed into the current winter break sitting second in the Primera Liga. They trail Barcelona by nine points after 17 rounds and therefore at present form the Catalan club’s greatest threat in the race for the title.
Having played with distinction for Atletico, Simeone has enjoyed incredible success since returning in 2011, this time taking up his role in the dugout. He guided the club to the Europa League and Copa del Rey crowns, while in the 2013/14 season Atletico broke Barcelona and Real Madrid’s domestic duopoly by winning La Liga. They have also twice finished runner-up in the Uefa Champions League.
Simeone, 47, was reluctant to speak about Atletico on Wednesday, instead preferring to concentrate on the topics he discussed during the conference at Madinat Jumeirah. During a session entitled "Investing in the Youth Sector", he explored at length the importance of building a winning mentality within players at a young age.
Sitting alongside former England manager Fabio Capello and current Egypt counterpart Hector Cuper, Simeone cited defender Lucas Hernandez as an example of Atletico's faith in youth.
The Frenchman, 21, has come through the ranks at Atletico – he joined the club age 11 and is now an established member of the first-team squad – and was earlier this year linked heavily with Manchester United. In May, Hernandez signed a contract extension that keeps him at the Wanda Metropolitano until 2022.
Asked why he believes that Hernandez has the ability to become one of the finest centre-backs in the world, Simeone said: “Because I know him since he was young and I believe he has all the characteristics, all the skills to be one of the best.”