Only a matter of weeks ago it looked as though Sime Vrsaljko was on his way out of the Wanda Metropolitano and Atletico Madrid, having been left out for the majority of games between the start of the season and the winter break.
Getting back into the side just before Christmas, the Croatian had a last shot to recover his Atletico career in the absence of Juanfran through injury. The 26-year-old has impressed, with three assists in 12 league games since mid-December.
Napoli were linked with taking him back to Serie A, where he previously played for Sassuolo, and Diego Simeone was prepared to allow him to leave, but he has now signed a new contract in Madrid.
The new deal will run until 2022 and sees him commit his long term future to the club as there has been a clear change of approach from Simeone and his club.
Now, the defender looks like the replacement for Juanfran that Simeone has been looking for, a year and a half after he arrived in Madrid from Italy.
From 14 appearances this season, Atletico have kept nine clean sheets with Vrsaljko in the team and that kind of defensive stability will be key as Simeone’s side look to establish a push for the Europa League title and also apply pressure on Barcelona at the top of LaLiga.
“I am very happy to be able to continue growing here, I feel very comfortable and I only think about working every day to be important in the team,” the defender said after putting pen to paper.